Maternal rank influences the outcome of aggressive interactions between immature chimpanzees.


Journal Article

For many long-lived mammalian species, extended maternal investment has a profound effect on offspring integration in complex social environments. One component of this investment may be aiding young in aggressive interactions, which can set the stage for offspring social position later in life. Here we examined maternal effects on dyadic aggressive interactions between immature (<12 years) chimpanzees. Specifically, we tested whether relative maternal rank predicted the probability of winning an aggressive interaction. We also examined maternal responses to aggressive interactions to determine whether maternal interventions explain interaction outcomes. Using a 12-year behavioural data set (2000-2011) from Gombe National Park, Tanzania, we found that relative maternal rank predicted the probability of winning aggressive interactions in male-male and male-female aggressive interactions: offspring were more likely to win if their mother outranked their opponent's mother. Female-female aggressive interactions occurred infrequently (two interactions), so could not be analysed. The probability of winning was also higher for relatively older individuals in male-male interactions, and for males in male-female interactions. Maternal interventions were rare (7.3% of 137 interactions), suggesting that direct involvement does not explain the outcome for the vast majority of aggressive interactions. These findings provide important insight into the ontogeny of aggressive behaviour and early dominance relationships in wild apes and highlight a potential social advantage for offspring of higher-ranking mothers. This advantage may be particularly pronounced for sons, given male philopatry in chimpanzees and the potential for social status early in life to translate more directly to adult rank.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Markham, AC; Lonsdorf, EV; Pusey, AE; Murray, CM

Published Date

  • February 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 100 /

Start / End Page

  • 192 - 198

PubMed ID

  • 25624528

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25624528

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-3472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.12.003


  • eng