Female monkeys use both the carrot and the stick to promote male participation in intergroup fights

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2016-11-30

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1817

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 6

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Research Highlight

Fight promoters

© Russell Burden/Photodisc/Getty

© Russell Burden/Photodisc/Getty

Despite their physical advantage, male vervet monkeys rarely help females secure food reserves, except during mating season to score points with potential paramours. By pulling the males’ strings, however, the female monkeys can secure a favourable outcome for themselves.

After noticing a variation in how female monkeys treated their males after intergroup conflict, The University of Zurich’s Jean Arseneau and colleagues found that, between bouts of violence, female monkeys would either pamper — or violently rebuff — the male combatants, depending on whether they fought or stood aside. They also noted that female monkeys were the often the first to instigate trouble, before assessing their group’s chances of success and rallying support for fight or flight.

"Ours is the first study to demonstrate that any non-human species use manipulative tactics, such as punishment or rewards, to promote participation in intergroup fights," Arseneau told the AFP.

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  1. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283, 20161817 (2016). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1817
Institutions Share
Mawana Game Reserve, South Africa 0.50
University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland 0.42
University of Neuchâtel (UniNE), Switzerland 0.08