Abstract # 1084 Event # 116:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 11:45 AM-12:00 PM: Session 8 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation


Monkey See, Monkey Do (Sometimes, but not always): A comparison between gazing preferences toward artificial stimuli of colored sex skin and relationships between sex skin color and social behavior among free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulata)

M. S. Gerald1,2 and C. Waitt1,2,3
1Cayo Santiago, Caribbean Primate Research Center, PO BOX 906, Punta Santiago, PR 00741, USA, 2University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, 3Scottish Primate Research Group
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     To assess preferences, investigators have largely depended on measuring gaze duration toward stimulus variants. We explored how well attention of female rhesus macaques (n = 8) toward images of variably colored sexual skin could predict relationships between color and social behavior among free-ranging females (n = 15). Specifically, Study 1 evaluated female reactions toward reddened versus non-reddened images of unfamiliar females, at the Sabana Seca Field Station. Study 2 analyzed color and observational data (640 hrs) on adult females during a mating season on Cayo Santiago. Observers were blind to results obtained in either study. Gazing preferences could not easily predict the quality of color-behavior relationships among free-ranging monkeys. Paired t-tests demonstrated that females selectively attended toward images of unfamiliar females with reddened-faces (t(7) = -3.87, P = 0.006) and reddened-hindquarters (t(7) = -2.535, P = 0.039). The data from the observations of the free-ranging monkeys showed positive associations between facial hue and the initiation (Z = 2.60, P = 0.005) and maintenance (Z = 2.36, P = 0.010), of affiliative behaviors with other females, whereas higher facial saturation was associated with lower levels of aggression received from other females (Z = -2.28, P = 0.011). While the experimental results demonstrated that color is salient to female rhesus, these results could not capture why color is salient. We conclude that while gaze duration might represent interest or even attraction, findings can be difficult to interpret.