The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Dominance Rank and Exposure to Predators in Wild Blue Monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni)


1PhD Program in Anthropology, The Graduate Center City University of New York (CUNY), 2NYCEP, New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, 3Department of Biological Sciences, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, 4Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University

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Many studies of cercopithecine monkeys implicate dominance rank as an important variable influencing fitness, but there is growing awareness of the paucity of data for many species, and variation in rank’s effects. We studied how dominance rank affected the exposure of wild adult female Cercopithecus mitis to predators. Dominance hierarchies in blue monkeys have been characterized as stable but shallow. Focusing on adult females in two study groups inhabiting the Kakamega Forest, Kenya, we monitored their location in the canopy and in individual tree crowns over a two month period. Although blue monkeys are generally arboreal, we found that high-ranking females were somewhat more likely than low-rankers to use the ground, which is likely risky. Otherwsise, rank did not predict the location of individuals in the trees, and concomitant exposure to aerial predators. Our results confirm a previous report from a third group in our study population. They are also consistent with other findings suggesting that dominance rank has limited effects on behavior in this species, despite being readily detectable. Effects of dominance rank are clearly variable in cercopithecines.

Research supported by the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NSF 0966166, NYCEP IGERT) and the National Science Foundation (BCS 1028471).

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