Wednesday 11 December 2019

Close friends help macaques survive

DECEMBER 10, 2019

Close friendships improve the survival chances of rhesus macaques, new research shows.

University of Exeter scientists studied the social lives of female macaques on "Monkey Island" (Cayo Santiago, off Puerto Rico).

Data spanning seven years revealed that females with the strongest social connection to a another macaque—measured by factors including time spent together and time grooming each other's fur—were 11% less likely to die in a given year.

"We can't say for certain why close social ties help macaques survive," said lead author Dr. Sam Ellis, of Exeter's Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.

"Having favoured partners could be beneficial in multiple ways, including more effective cooperation and 'exchange' activities such as grooming and forming coalitions.

"Many species—including humans—use social interactions to cope with challenges in their environment, and a growing number of studies show that well-connected individuals are healthier and safer than those who are isolated."

The study focussed on four measures of social connection:
Associating with many other macaques
Having strong connections to favoured partners
Connecting the broader group (being a link by associating with several sub-groups)
A high rate of cooperative activities such as grooming

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