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Primate Research Institute,
Kyoto University All rights reserved.



Nahoko Tokuyama & Takeshi Furuichi

Group-living animals need to coordinate their activity in order to maintain gregariousness. Although individuals have their own nutritional, social, and reproductive needs, they have to reach consensus to decide where and when to travel. Collective movements are the outcome of one individual's departure, who is then followed by other group members. We investigated departure initiation in a group of bonobos at Wamba, DR Congo, to determine the distribution of leadership among group members. If three or more bonobos started moving more than 30 m, we assigned the individual who moved first as the one who initiated the movement. Two hundred and fifty-four departures were observed. First, we examined whether the frequency of initiation differed according to the following attributes of individuals: sex, age, stage in sexual swelling cycle, dominance, and affiliative relationship. We also examined whether one or more individual(s) initiate departure more or less frequently than expected by chance. A significant interaction between sex and age was found, indicating that the effect of age was greater among females than among males. Individuals who were more central to the grooming network initiated departures more frequently. The three oldest females initiated more often than expected. Old females may be followed because of coalitionary supports they often give to younger females, and of their greater knowledge about ranging area. Leadership in bonobos was not equally shared among group members, and old females were “ key individuals ” who helped to maintain cohesiveness in their fission-fusion society.
Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2017) 71:55
DOI 10.1007/s00265-017-2277-5
2017/03/01 Primate Research Institute