Abstract # 229:

Scheduled for Monday, September 19, 2011 12:00 PM-12:15 PM: Session 30 (Meeting Room 410) Oral Presentation


K. E. Anderson and S. R. Ross
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

How animals distribute themselves within a social group, their social spacing, can provide valuable information about group dynamics and the manner in which social relationships influence group cohesion. Traditionally, spacing has been measured using somewhat arbitrary categories of inter-individual distances (contact, proximate, distant) which may over-simplify changes in proximity patterns among individuals. Often, these categories only allow researchers to record a focal’s “nearest neighbor”, which ignores the potential importance of other extant relationships. Here we suggest using a more detailed approach to measure social spacing, in which group scans are collected using digital map-interfaces to simultaneously record the location of captive animals. To demonstrate the applicability of these methods, we examined how time of day and access to outdoor areas affected the social spacing of a group of chimpanzees (n=4) within their naturalistic, indoor-outdoor enclosure. We found that both time of day and outdoor access had a significant effect on mean inter-individual distances [F(6,417)=4.74, P<0.001; F(1,339)=77.12, P<0.001]; chimpanzees decreased their inter-individual distances during the afternoon hours and also when restricted to the indoor enclosure. These results may have been overlooked with the more common but less precise methodologies, and we assert that the use of these continuous measures of social spacing will facilitate new insights into social dynamics, habitat use and group cohesion of captive primates.