Truelove, M. A., Martin, A. L., Perlman, J. E. et al. 2012. Behavioral assessment of rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) pairs through a common laboratory event. American Journal of Primatology 74(S1), 42. (35th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #54)
Using behavioral data to predict pair stability would be helpful for improving management of pairs and prevention of injury. Differences in reactions to presumed laboratory stressors, such as location moves, may provide information about pair stability. Six, five-minute focal observations of eight young adult, male rhesus macaque pair members were collected over three conditions: immediately before, immediately following, and three months after a room change. An averaged multivariate test of significance (alpha=.05) indicated that overall behavior, including social, anxiety, and abnormal behavior, changed across conditions (F(24,4)=48.58, p=.02). Behavioral comparisons were made between two pairs who later required separation due to problematic aggression, and that of the two socially-stable pairs. The separated pairs exhibited more anxiety (F(1,6)=9.032, p=.02) and more threats directed away from their partners (F(1,6)=7.478, p=.034) than did the stable pairs. Immediately following the location change, those pairs requiring separation yawned more (F(2,12)=3.98, p=.04) and trended toward threatening non-partners more (F(2,12)=2.95, p=.09) and displaying abnormal behavior more (F(2,12)=2.97, p=.09) than the stable pairs, indicating a different reaction to the move. Findings in this pilot study suggest that further investigation with a larger sample could further illuminate how potential stressors affect social behavior patterns and also whether the monitoring of pair interactions over time will allow behavioral managers to predict stability of pairs.