Roubová, V., Konecná, M., Smilauer, P., & Wallner, B. (2015). Whom to Groom and for What? Patterns of Grooming in Female Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Plos One, 10(2), e0117298.
Abstract: Grooming is one of the most conspicuous social interactions among nonhuman primates. The selection of grooming partners can provide important clues about factors relevant for the distribution of grooming within a social group. We analyzed grooming behavior among 17 semi-free ranging female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). We tested whether grooming is related to kinship, rank and friendship. Furthermore, we tested whether grooming is reciprocated or exchanged for rank related benefits (i.e. lower aggression and increased tolerance whilst feeding). We found that in general grooming was reciprocally exchanged, directed up the hierarchy and at the same time affected by friendship and kinship. Grooming was more frequent among individuals with higher friendship values as well as amongst related individuals. We also divided our data set on the basis of rank difference and tested if different power asymmetries between individuals affected the tendency to exchange grooming for rank related benefits and grooming reciprocation. In support of our initial hypothesis our results show that the reciprocation of grooming was a significant predictor of grooming interactions between individuals of similar rank, but not between those individuals more distantly separated in the social hierarchy. However, we did not find any evidence for grooming being exchanged for rank related benefits in either data set. Our results, together with previously published studies, illustrate the behavioral flexibility of macaques. It is clear that multiple studies of the same species are necessary to gather the data required for the solid comparative studies needed to shed light on patterns of grooming behavior in primates.