MonkeyPro Information Repository
Topic: Primate Social Systems

Richard Wrangham stated that social systems of non-human primates are best classified by the amount of movement by females occurring between groups. He proposed four categories:

Japanese Macaques bathe together in Jigokudani Hot Spring

Other systems are known to occur as well. For example, with howler monkeys both the males and females typically transfer from their natal group on reaching sexual maturity, resulting in groups in which neither the males nor females are typically related. Some prosimians, colobine monkeys and callitrichid monkeys use this system.

Chimpanzees are social animals.

Primatologist Jane Goodall, who studied in the Gombe Stream National Park, noted fission-fusion societies in chimpanzees. There is fission where the main group splits up to forage during the day, then fusion when the group returns at night to sleep as a group. This social structure can also be observed in the Hamadryas Baboon, spider monkeys and the Bonobo. The Gelada has a similar social structure in which many smaller groups come together to form temporary herds of up to 600 monkeys.

These social systems are affected by three main ecological factors: distribution of resources, group size and predation.Within a social group there is a balance between cooperation and competition. Cooperative behaviors include social grooming (removing skin parasites and cleaning wounds), food sharing, and collective defense against predators or of a territory. Aggressive behaviors often signal competition for availability of food, sleeping sites or mates. Aggression is also used in establishing dominance hierarchies.