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Chapter 7

ANTA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Social Grooming, Hominidae, Conflict Resolution


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTA01H3
Professor
Genevieve Dewar
Chapter
7

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C H A P TE R 7 : P RI M A T E B EHAVIOU R
Behaviour: Anything organisms do that involves action in response to internal or external stimuli; the
response of an individual, group, or species to its environment. Such responses may or may not be
deliberate, and are not necessarily the result of conscious decision making.
Ecological: Pertaining to the relationships between organisms and all aspects of their environment.
Behavioural Ecology: The study of the evolution of behaviour, emphasizing the roles of ecological factors
as agents of natural selection.
THE EVOLUTION OF BEHAVIOR
Scientists study behavior in free-ranging primates from an ecological perspective, focusing on the
relationship between individual and the social behaviors, the natural environment, and the various
physiological features of the species. This approach is called behavioral ecology, and it’s based off of the
underlying assumption that all of the interconnected biological components of ecological systems,
evolved together. The cornerstone of this perspective is that behaviors have evolved through the
operation of natural selection and therefore subject to it in the same way physical traits are. We also
know that in mammals (and other animals), some behaviours at least are influenced by certain gene
products such as hormones. Because bavioural genetics is faily new, scientists are generally unaware of
the extent to which genes actually influence behavior or other species. However, behavior must be
viewed as the product of complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors.
SOME FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE SOCIAL STRUCTURE
Social Structure: The composition, size, and sex ratio of a group of animals. The social structure is in part,
the result of natural selection in a specific habitat, and it guides individual interactions and social
relations.
BODY SIZE
As a rule, larger animals require fewer calories per unit of weight than smaller animals. Due to less
surface area relative to body mass they can retain heat more efficiently and therefore need less energy
overall.
BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)
The BMR concerns metabolism, the rate at which the body uses energy to maintain all bodily functions
while in a resting state. Smaller animals tend to have a greater BMR, requiring them to eat energy rich
foods that are high in protein. Larger primates are able to do well with less energy-rich foods.
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DISTRIBUTION OF RESOURCES
Various kinds of foods are distributed in different ways. Leaves can be abundant and dense and therefore
can support large groups. On the other hand, insects tend to be less abundant and scattered and the
animals that rely on them usually feed alone or with one/two others. Fruit/nuts tend to be found in
clumps and are most efficiently exploited by smaller groups so larger groups will split into subgroups
when feeding. Such subunits may consist of one male- multiple females or matrilines (females, their
daughters, ad their daughter’s offsprig).
PREDATION
Typically, where predation is high and body size is relatively small large communities are advantageous.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER, NON-PREDATORY SPECIES
Some primates may associate with other primates or non-primate species for various reason, one being
predator avoidance. When they do share habitats, they exploit different resources.
DISPERSAL
In most cases, members of one sex will leave their natal group when they are sexually mature. Male
dispersal is the most common but female dispersal is also seen. In species where the basic social
structure is a mated-pair, offspring of both sexes usually leave or are driven away by their parents.
Dispersal has more than one outcome. When females leave, they join other groups. However, when
males leave they may live alone for a while or join an all-male group before they establish one of their
own. But the common theme is that individuals who disperse often find mates outside of their group. The
most valid explanations for dispersal is reduced competition between males for mates and the decreased
likelihood of close inbreeding.
LIFE HISTORIES
Life history traits are characteristics or developmental stages that typify members of a given species and
therefore influence potential reproductive rates. Examples include length of gestation, length of time
between pregnancy (interparty interval), length of infant dependency, life expantancy, and age of sexual
maturity.
Life history traits have important consequences. Shorter life histories are atvantegous to animals that live
in unpredictable habitats because reproduction can happen rapidly. On the other hand, longer-lived
specie are better suited to stable environments. The extended lifespan of the great apes, characterized by
later sexual maturation and long interbirth intervals, means that females will raise very few offspring to
maturity. This slow rate of reproduction increases the threat of extinction because they are being hunted
at a rate that far outpaces their reproductive capabilities.
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