Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates.
ABSTRACT Although much attention has been focused on explaining and describing the diversity of social grouping patterns among primates, less effort has been devoted to understanding the evolutionary history of social living. This is partly because social behaviours do not fossilize, making it difficult to infer changes over evolutionary time. However, primate social behaviour shows strong evidence for phylogenetic inertia, permitting the use of Bayesian comparative methods to infer changes in social behaviour through time, thereby allowing us to evaluate alternative models of social evolution. Here we present a model of primate social evolution, whereby sociality progresses from solitary foraging individuals directly to large multi-male/multi-female aggregations (approximately 52 million years (Myr) ago), with pair-living (approximately 16 Myr ago) or single-male harem systems (approximately 16 Myr ago) derivative from this second stage. This model fits the data significantly better than the two widely accepted alternatives (an unstructured model implied by the socioecological hypothesis or a model that allows linear stepwise changes in social complexity through time). We also find strong support for the co-evolution of social living with a change from nocturnal to diurnal activity patterns, but not with sex-biased dispersal. This supports suggestions that social living may arise because of increased predation risk associated with diurnal activity. Sociality based on loose aggregation is followed by a second shift to stable or bonded groups. This structuring facilitates the evolution of cooperative behaviours and may provide the scaffold for other distinctive anthropoid traits including coalition formation, cooperative resource defence and large brains.
- SourceAvailable from: Alexandra E Müller[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The evolution and origin of primate social organisation has attracted the attention of many researchers, and a solitary pattern, believed to be present in most nocturnal prosimians, has been generally considered as the most primitive system. Nocturnal prosimians are in fact mostly seen alone during their nightly activities and therefore termed 'solitary foragers', but that does not mean that they are not social. Moreover, designating their social organisation as 'solitary', implies that their way of life is uniform in all species. It has, however, emerged over the last decades that all of them exhibit not only some kind of social network but also that those networks differ among species. There is a need to classify these social networks in the same manner as with group-living (gregarious) animals if we wish to link up the different forms of primate social organisation with ecological, morphological or phylogenetic variables. In this review, we establish a basic classification based on spatial relations and sociality in order to describe and cope properly with the social organisation patterns of the different species of nocturnal prosimians and other mammals that do not forage in cohesive groups. In attempting to trace the ancestral pattern of primate social organisation, the Malagasy mouse and dwarf lemurs and the Afro-Asian bushbabies and lorises are of special interest because they are thought to approach the ancestral conditions most closely. These species have generally been believed to exhibit a dispersed harem system as their pattern of social organisation ('dispersed' means that individuals forage solitarily but exhibit a social network). Therefore, the ancestral pattern of primate social organisation was inferred to be a dispersed harem. In fact, new field data on cheirogaleids combined with a review of patterns of social organisation in strepsirhines (lemurs, bushbabies and lorises) revealed that they exhibit either dispersed multi-male systems or dispersed monogamy rather than a dispersed harem system. Therefore, the concept of a dispersed harem system as the ancestral condition of primate social organisation can no longer be supported. In combination with data on social organisation patterns in 'primitive' placentals and marsupials, and in monotremes, it is in fact most probable that promiscuity is the ancestral pattern for mammalian social organisation. Subsequently, a dispersed multi-male system derived from promiscuity should be regarded as the ancestral condition for primates. We further suggest that the gregarious patterns of social organisation in Aotus and Avahi, and the dispersed form in Tarsius evolved from the gregarious patterns of diurnal primates rather than from the dispersed nocturnal type. It is consequently proposed that, in addition to Aotus and Tarsius, Avahi is also secondarily nocturnal.Biological Reviews 09/2000; 75(3):405-35. · 10.26 Impact Factor
Article: The Socioecology of Primate Groups11/2003; 17:111-136.
Article: Evolution of Primate Social Systems[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We review evolutionary processes and mechanisms that gave rise to the diversity of primate social systems. We define social organization, social structure and mating system as distinct components of a social system. For each component, we summarize levels and patterns of variation among primates and discuss evolutionary determinants of this variation. We conclude that conclusive explanations for a solitary life and pair-living are still lacking. We then focus on interactions among the 3 components in order to identify main targets of selection and potential constraints for social evolution. Social organization and mating system are more closely linked to each other than either one is to social structure. Further, we conclude that it is important to seek a priori measures for the effects of presumed selective factors and that the genetic contribution to social systems is still poorly examined. Finally, we examine the role of primate socio-ecology in current evolutionary biology and conclude that primates are not prominently represented because the main questions asked in behavioral ecology are often irrelevant for primate behavior. For the future, we see a rapprochement of these areas as the role of disease and life-history theory are integrated more fully into primate socio-ecology.International Journal of Primatology 07/2002; 23(4):707-740. · 1.79 Impact Factor