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Northwest, China

Qi X.-G.,Northwest Universityan | Qi X.-G.,Urbana University | Garber P.A.,Urbana University | Ji W.,Massey University | And 10 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

Multilevel societies (MLS), in which polygynous reproductive units are nested in a larger social matrix, represent a highly complex social system documented only in a small number of mammalian species. Using long-term behavioural data, satellite telemetry and social network analysis, we present a new framework for understanding the function and social dynamics of the golden snub-nosed monkey MLS. Here we show that several one-male units form a cohesive breeding band that associates with one or more all-male units to form a herd. Herds seasonally aggregate and exchange members, thus facilitating gene flow and inbreeding avoidance. This MLS evolved from the aggregation of independent one-male, multifemale units that characterize ancestral Asian colobines; the evolutionary pathway leading to this MLS contrasts with that proposed for African papionins, which appear to have undergone internal fissioning of multimale-multifemale groups. The results suggest that both environmental and phylogenetic factors are important in the evolution of a primate MLS.

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