Abstract # 2611 Poster # 72:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 5 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


P. L. McDougall
University of Lethbrige, Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, Department of Psychology, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K-3M4, Canada

Self-directed behaviours (SDB) have been demonstrated to reflect anxiety in nonhuman primates and have thus become a popular tool for investigating various aspects of social relationships; however, observations on many primate species have produced differing results with respect to the effects of affiliation and hierarchical rank. 175 hours of focal data were collected to examine correlates of SDB in 9 free-ranging female vervet monkeys living in semi-arid Karoo, South Africa. The Wilcoxon signed-ranks test indicated no significant difference in the rate of SDB/min between animals that were alone and those in the presence of other individuals. SDB decreased, however, with the presence of an affiliate [p<0.01] and increased when there was no affiliate present [p<0.05]. SDB was also found to decrease while in proximity to dominant individuals [p<0.05]. It is important to note, however that dominance and affiliation are not mutually exclusive and the majority of time spent with others was with affiliates. These results suggest that rates of affiliation with a given individual influence the level of anxiety experienced while in proximity, and that dominance plays little or no role. This supports recent suggestions that 1) species with high tolerance among group members do not exhibit increased anxiety in the presence of dominants, and 2) affiliation increases the predictability of another's behaviour, thus increasing relationship security.