Abstract # 196:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Cascade AJBCD) Poster Presentation


RELAXED EYE CONTACT: DESCRIPTION OF AN AFFILIATIVE BEHAVIOR OBSERVED IN CAPTIVE RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA)

A. C. Nathman1, D. L. Hannibal1, B. A. Beisner1,2 and B. McCowan1,2
1California National Primate Research Center, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA, 2University of California-Davis, Department of Population Health & Reproduction, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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     Direct eye contact is generally understood to be agonistic in rhesus macaques. Less is known about the use of sustained, mutual eye contact as an affiliative behavior among rhesus macaques. Observations conducted at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) reveal an affiliative behavior we call relaxed eye contact (REC). REC is characterized by direct, sustained, reciprocated eye contact between animals in proximity or contact sitting, and occurs in the absence of agonistic or submissive behaviors. Using an all occurrence sampling method we recorded 141 dyadic bouts of REC among 55 individuals across 600 hours of observation of 3 outdoor captive groups of rhesus macaques (N=285). Study subjects’ ages ranged from 2-18 years old (mean=6.6). Among REC participants 76% are female, 24% are male, and 94% of REC interactions occur between individuals within the same matriline while 6% occur between individuals from different matrilines. Interestingly, within a social group, this form of affiliation was observed in some matrilines but not others and not all members of participating matrilines were observed in REC interactions. Study groups included mixed indoor and outdoor reared animals, but primarily animals with early exposure to species-typical outdoor social groups were observed engaging in REC, suggesting this is an important condition for exhibiting this behavior. Further study of REC affiliation is needed to uncover the function of this behavior.