Just published in a special issue of the International Journal of Primatology, this paper came about as a result of a grant from DAAD that enabled me to work in the Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology Unit at the German Primate Center (DPZ)
Multilevel Societies in New World Primates? Flexibility May Characterize the Organization of Peruvian Red Uakaris (Cacajao calvus ucayalii)
Mark Bowler, Christoph Knogge, Eckhard W. Heymann and Dietmar Zinner
Researchers have described multilevel societies with one-male, multifemale units (OMUs) forming within a larger group in several catarrhine species, but not in platyrhines. OMUs in multilevel societies are associated with extremely large group sizes, often with >100 individuals, and the only platyrhine genus that forms groups of this size is Cacajao. We review available evidence for multilevel organization and the formation of OMUs in groups of Cacajao, and test predictions for the frequency distribution patterns of male–male and male–female interindividual distances within groups of red-faced uakaris (Cacajao calvus ucayalii), comparing year-round data with those collected at the peak of the breeding season, when group cohesion may be more pronounced. Groups of Cacajao fission and fuse, forming subgroup sizes at frequencies consistent with an OMU organization. In Cacajao calvus ucayalii and Cacajao calvus calvus, bachelor groups are also observed, a characteristic of several catarrhine species that form OMUs. However, researchers have observed both multimale–multifemale groups and groups with a single male and multiple females in Cacajao calvus. The frequency distributions of interindividual distances for male–male and male–female dyads are consistent with an OMU-based organization, but alternative interpretations of these data are possible. The distribution of interindividual distances collected during the peak breeding season differed from those collected year-round, indicating seasonal changes in the spatial organization of Cacajao calvus ucayalii. We suggest a high degree of flexibility may characterize the social organization of Cacajao calvus ucayalii, which may form OMUs under certain conditions. Further studies with identifiable individuals, thus far not possible in Cacajao, are required to confirm the social organization.