Our team has recently published two studies on the benefits of grooming exchange in Barbary macaques. Grooming is intensely studied by primatologists as a model behaviour to analyse the benefits of sociality.
In our first study (Molesti & Majolo 2015) we found that grooming did not increase food tolerance soon after a grooming interaction ended. This is not a surprising result, as the social benefits of grooming are more likely to become evident when considering large time windows than over short-term exchanges.
In our second study in male macaques (Young et al 2014), we found that monkeys with strong social bonds (measured by grooming exchange and other friendly behaviours) were better able to cope with social (aggression received) and environmental (low temperature) stressors. This supports previous research on humans and other animals in showing that sociality gives benefits in terms of survival, reproduction and response to stress.
Open mouth display: low intensity aggressive display in macaques
Molesti S & Majolo B. (2015). No short‐term contingency between grooming and food tolerance in Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Ethology, 121: 372-382.
Young C, Majolo B, Heistermann M, Schülke O, & Ostner J (2014). Responses to social and environmental stress are attenuated by strong male bonds in wild macaques. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111: 18195-18200.
The November issue of National Geographic features an article on the Barbary macaque and fantastic pictures of the monkeys we study in Morocco, taken by Francisco Mingorance. Francisco is a Spanish photographer who has spent long hours with the monkeys to get the right picture!
Members of the Barbary Macaque Project, Dr. Bonaventura Majolo and Professor Stuart Semple, together with Kristina Stazaker (Moroccan Primate Conservation) have been invited to give a talk on October 11th at the Conservation Evening organised by Monkey Forest in Staffordshire. The event will start at 17.30 with talks on the conservation of the Barbary macaques in the wild, be followed by a questions and answers session and a wine reception. The evening is a great opportunity to talk about the macaques and contribute to their conservation!
The crew is all together after lots of pictures and data!
Last week, we had an opportunity to visit the macaques at Trentham Monkey Forest, a park housing around 130 Barbary macaques in a large forested area. This visit was part of the elective module on Comparative Social Behaviour and Cognition offered to second year Psychology students at the University of Lincoln. At the park we enjoyed watching the monkeys in action and the students could collect some data on grooming exchange as part of the Poster assessment. We were pretty lucky with the weather, as it was sunny for most of the day, and the monkeys decided to behave, spending lots of time grooming! The visit was also an opportunity to film the monkeys (and humans!) to showcase one of the many engaging activities our students can be involved in during their degree at Lincoln.
The monkeys were very cooperative and spent quite a lot of time grooming