Chapter 7: Primate Behavior
Behavior- 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 they aren’t necessarily the results of conscious decision making.
Ecological- pertaining to the relationships between organisms and all aspects of their
environment (temperature, predators, non-predators, vegetation, availability of food and water,
types of food, disease organisms, parasites, etc.)
Behavioral ecology- the study of the evolution of behavior, emphasizing the role of ecological
factors as agents of natural selection; behaviors and behavioral patterns have been favored
because they increase the reproductive fitness of individuals (they’re adaptive) in specific
Social structure- the composition, size, and sex ratio of a group of animals; the social structure
of a species is, in part, the result of natural selection in a specific habitat, and it guides individual
interactions and social relationships.
Metabolism- the chemical processes within cells that break down nutrients and release energy
for the body to use. (When nutrients are broken down into their component parts, such as amino
acids, energy is released and made available for the cell to use).
Matrilines- groups that consist of a female, her daughters, and their offspring; matrilineal groups
are common in macaques.
Life history traits- characteristics and developmental stages that influence reproductive rates;
examples include: longevity, age at sexual maturity, and length of time between births.
Dominance hierarchies- systems of social organization wherein individuals within a group are
ranked relative to one another; higher-ranking animals have greater access to preferred food
items and mating partners than lower-ranking individuals. Dominance hierarchies are sometimes
called “pecking orders.”
Communication- any act that conveys information, in the form of a message, to another
individual; frequently, the result of communication is a change in the behavioral of the recipient.
Communication isn’t always deliberate but may instead be the result of involuntary processes or
a secondary consequence of an intentional action.
Autonomic- pertaining to physiological responses not under voluntary control; an example in
chimps would be the erection of body hair during excitement. Blushing is a human example.
Both convey information regarding emotional states, but neither is deliberate, and
communication isn’t intended.
Grooming- picking through fur to remove dirt, parasites, and other materials that may be
present; social grooming is common am