Comparison of feeding behavior between two different-sized groups of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui).

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Article first published online: 13 MAY 2015Group-living animals face intragroup scramble and intergroup contest competitions. Many studies have shown that larger groups bear the costs of intragroup scramble competition, which negatively affects the reproductive success of females. Unlike most primate species, Japanese macaques in the Yakushima coastal forest show increased reproductive success with group size. However, it remains unclear how group size affects the behavior of macaques. The present study examined the effects of group size on the feeding behavior of Japanese macaques in the Yakushima coastal forest. We investigated 9-13 adult females from two different-sized groups via focal animal sampling during October 2012-August 2013. We compared the feeding behavior, including patch use, between the two groups. The larger group had a larger home range and spent more time feeding, especially on mature leaves. This suggests that intragroup feeding competition should be more intense in the larger group than in the smaller group. The feeding of mature leaves might enable the larger group to increase the number of co-feeding individuals. Contrary to the predictions that the larger group travels longer distances and spends more time moving, the smaller group traveled longer distances, and spent more time moving, although the number of visited patches did not differ between the two groups. The immediate consequences of the loss of inter-group encounters could accumulate as daily travel costs, considering that group size is associated with inter-group dominance and that intergroup aggressive encounters occur frequently in the Yakushima coastal forest. This suggests that the smaller group has increased travel costs as a result of intergroup contest competition, which leads to decline in reproductive success.


  • American journal of primatology

    American journal of primatology 77(9), 986-1000, 2015-09



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