Article

Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates.

Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, 64 Banbury Road, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PN, UK.
Nature (Impact Factor: 38.6). 11/2011; 479(7372):219-22. DOI:10.1038/nature10601
Source: PubMed

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.

0 0
 · 
1 Bookmark
 · 
112 Views
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Safety in numbers is thought to be the principal advantage of living in groups for many species. The group can only provide protection against predators, however, when group cohesion is maintained. Vocalisations are used to monitor inter-individual distances, especially under conditions of poor visibility, but should be avoided in the presence of predators. Mentally tracking the movements of silent and invisible group members would allow animals foraging in dense vegetation to stay close to their group members while reducing the use of vocal contact. We tested the socio-spatial cognitive abilities of wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) by comparing their reactions to plausible and implausible displacements of group members simulated by sound playbacks. Our methods are comparable to those used in studies of 'object permanence' and 'invisible displacements' of inanimate objects. Our results show that vervets can track the whereabouts of invisibly and silently moving group members, at least over short periods of time.
    Animal Cognition 10/2013; · 2.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: [This corrects the article on p. e83667 in vol. 8.].
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1). · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Maternal kin selection is a driving force in the evolution of mammalian social complexity and it requires that kin are distinctive from nonkin. The transition from the ancestral state of asociality to the derived state of complex social groups is thought to have occurred via solitary foraging, in which individuals forage alone, but, unlike the asocial ancestors, maintain dispersed social networks via scent-marks and vocalizations. We hypothesize that matrilineal signatures in vocalizations were an important part of these networks. We used the solitary foraging gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) as a model for ancestral solitary foragers and tested for matrilineal signatures in their calls, thus investigating whether such signatures are already present in solitary foragers and could have facilitated the kin selection thought to have driven the evolution of increased social complexity in mammals. Because agonism can be very costly, selection for matrilineal signatures in agonistic calls should help reduce agonism between unfamiliar matrilineal kin. We conducted this study on a well-studied population of wild mouse lemurs at Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar. We determined pairwise relatedness using seven microsatellite loci, matrilineal relatedness by sequencing the mitrochondrial D-loop, and sleeping group associations using radio-telemetry. We recorded agonistic calls during controlled social encounters and conducted a multi-parametric acoustic analysis to determine the spectral and temporal structure of the agonistic calls. We measured 10 calls for each of 16 females from six different matrilineal kin groups. Calls were assigned to their matriline at a rate significantly higher than chance (pDFA: correct = 47.1%, chance = 26.7%, p = 0.03). There was a statistical trend for a negative correlation between acoustic distance and relatedness (Mantel Test: g = -1.61, Z = 4.61, r = -0.13, p = 0.058). Mouse lemur agonistic calls are moderately distinctive by matriline. Because sleeping groups consisted of close maternal kin, both genetics and social learning may have generated these acoustic signatures. As mouse lemurs are models for solitary foragers, we recommend further studies testing whether the lemurs use these calls to recognize kin. This would enable further modeling of how kin recognition in ancestral species could have shaped the evolution of complex sociality.
    Frontiers in Zoology 01/2014; 11(1):14. · 3.87 Impact Factor

Full-text

View
18 Downloads
Available from
Apr 10, 2013