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Chapter 6: Primate Ecology

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Chapter 6: Primate Ecology. Survival Getting enough to eat Types of food and metabolic needs Territories and Ranges Avoid being eaten Predation Sociality Types of social groups Sexual composition Dominance Hierarchies. Getting Enough to Eat. Larger animals need more food overall

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chapter 6 primate ecology

Chapter 6: Primate Ecology


Getting enough to eat

Types of food and metabolic needs

Territories and Ranges

Avoid being eaten



Types of social groups

Sexual composition

Dominance Hierarchies

getting enough to eat
Getting Enough to Eat
  • Larger animals need more food overall
  • Smaller animals need proportionally more calories.
nutrients and toxins
Nutrients and Toxins
  • Primates have diverse diets
  • Different primates eat different combinations of foods
    • Need a good source of protein and a good source of carbohydrates (sugars)
territories vs ranges
Territories vs. Ranges

Territories are not overlapping, boundaries aredefended

Ranges are overlapping, not exclusive

  • Smaller primate more likely to be victims of predators
    • Higher predation may lead to larger primates and a shift in food
  • Effects choice of where you live
  • Different defense mechanisms
    • Shelters
    • Activity patterns
    • Warning calls
      • Form of cooperation
      • Multi species cooperation
      • Different calls for different predators
  • Why be social?
    • Two reasons (Alexander)
      • To avoid predation
        • Safety in numbers (tend to form large groups)
        • Harder to feed everyone
      • Common resources capture
        • Social hunters (tend to be small)
          • Diminishing return problem
        • Collective defense of territory or competition with other groups
          • Balance of power
types of primate social groups
Types of Primate Social Groups

Solitary: Orangutans

Polygyny one-male: Gorillas

Monogamous: Gibbons

Polygyny multimale: Chimps

Polyandrous: Tamarinds

resource competition and dispersal patterns
Resource Competition and Dispersal Patterns
  • Resources are patchy and limited
    • Greater competition and dominance hierarchies
      • Within group competition greater than between group
        • Females will form kin based coalitions
        • Females will form dominance hierarchies
        • Female philopatry – Matrilocal
      • Between group competition > within group competition
        • Females will be more egalitarian
        • Females will still favor kin and be philopatric
Both within and between group competition is strong
    • Combination of the previous two contexts
      • Females favor kin groups – philopatric
      • Females more egalitarian
  • When resources are dispersed you get scramble competition
    • Females have little motivation to form dominance hierarchies
    • Females have little reason to form coalitions or be philopatric
      • Rare?
  • Where are the males?
    • Males go where the unrelated females are.
    • If females are philopatric then males must leave their natal group to avoid inbreeding depression.
    • The more females in a group the more they become a defendable (patchy) reproductive resource for males
      • The more females in a group the harder for one male to monopolize them, especially if they have asynchronous estrus.
how do chimps and humans fit in all of this
How do Chimps and Humans Fit in all of this?
  • Not very well!
    • Male philopatry – Patrilocal (even Bonobos)
    • The socioecological models presented in you book would lead you to believe that Chimps and our common ancestor live in a scramble competition context, but they don’t, and they are territorial.
    • Other possibilities?
      • Wrangham and Madson argue that
        • Chimps and Human males will be territorial if resources are defendable (patchy) and important to females
        • If resources are not defendable, males will fight over females
cost of grouping hypothesis wrangham
Cost of Grouping Hypothesis (Wrangham)
  • Males have an advantage in the cost of grouping
    • Males can forage farther for the same energy costs (more efficient) because they are caring babies or the extra weight of pregnancy (women paying a higher cost for reproduction)
    • You can put more males in a given area (fixed amount of food) than you can put females
    • Because of the lower cost of grouping men form larger groups than males.
    • They use there larger coalitions to compete with other groups of males, but also to dominate females.
what about bonobos
What about Bonobos?
  • Bonobos don’t compete with gorillas for food
  • More food to eat
  • The cost of grouping goes down for males and females
  • Females are not longer disadvantaged in terms of the cost of grouping
  • Females are better at forming coalitions (through sex) despite male philopatry (Patrilocallity)
  • Females dominate Males