The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Correlates of post-conflict affiliation in captive bonobos


Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

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All social animals face intra-group competition and species are expected to have evolved ways of managing relationships disrupted by these conflicts. Reconciliation and consolation are two of these mechanisms, well studied in chimpanzees and cercopithecines. By contrast, we know little about reconciliation and consolation in bonobos. The Valuable Relationships hypothesis argues that post-conflict behavior (PCB) is influenced by opponents’ relationship quality but this is likely not the only relevant variable. Other factors that might play a role in chimpanzee PCB include the costs and benefits related to the intensity of the conflict and the nature of the context (e.g. food, social). Bonobos differ from chimpanzees in the nature of dominance and general aggressiveness. It is expected that bonobo PCB will differ from chimpanzee PCB along these vectors. I predict that reconciliation will be more common after social conflicts (food conflicts may not be costly because of reduced feeding competition) and that intensity will not influence PCB (costs of approaching opponent are not as high in bonobos). The data are observations of 10 captive bonobos at the San Diego Zoo August 2009-March 2010. Conflict data include all occurrences using the post-conflict/matched control method. The analysis examines the relationship between PCB and the conflict variables in 203 conflicts. Analyses were carried out using chi-square and showed no relationship between intensity (p=.6771) or context (p=.4554) and reconciliation or between intensity (p=.8311) or context (p=.8425) and consolation. These results suggest intensity and context are not correlated with PCB in this colony of bonobos.

This study was funded, in part, by UCSD Project Bucks.

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