• Elo-rating for Tracking Rank Fluctuations after Demographic Changes Involving Semi-free-ranging Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta)

      Wooddell, Lauren J; Kaburu, Stefano SK; Suomi, Stephen J; Dettmer, Amanda M (American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 2017-05-01)
      Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) are gregarious primates that form despotic societies characterized by frequent and intense aggression. Within long-term social groups, demographic changes may influence hierarchical stability, potentially resulting in conflict and violently abrupt hierarchical changes. This conflict can result in serious implications for animal welfare, and thus, predictive tools would be invaluable to captive managers in determining social instabilities. Using the method Elo-rating to track rank changes and dominance stability, we predicted that demographic changes to a population of semi-free ranging rhesus macaques would result in changes in hierarchical stability. Over a 3 y period, dominance data were recorded on all troop members to track the hierarchy. Throughout the 3 y, significant changes occurred to the population (mainly due to health and colony management reasons; no changes specifically occurred for this study) including permanent removal of a large group of natal males, temporary and permanent removal of top-ranking females, and depositions of top-ranking families. Our retrospective study suggests that removing natal males was beneficial in promoting overall troop stability (that is, stability of dominance relationships), although remaining males opportunistically attempted to increase in rank, perhaps due to limited competition. Our results also suggest that removing top-ranking females, even temporarily, destabilized dominance relationships; consequently adjacently ranked females opportunistically increased in Elo-rating, both before and after the depositions of the α families. Thus, these challenges to the established hierarchy can be predicted by increases in Elo-rating within the β families after demographic changes to the α families. Our results suggest that the presence of natal males and the removal of top-ranking females should be minimized to maintain stable dominance relationships. In addition, longitudinal data reflecting dominance ranks, collected by using Elo-rating, may help managers of captive colonies in predicting dominance instabilities before they occur.
    • First-time rhesus monkey mothers, and mothers of sons, preferentially engage in face-to-face interactions with infants

      Dettmer, Amanda M.; Kaburu, Stefano S. K; Byers, Kristen L.; Murphy, Ashley M.; Soneson, Emma; Wooddell, Lauren J.; Suomi, Stephen J. (Wiley, 2015-11-18)
      Face-to-face interactions between mothers and infants occur in both human and non-human primates, but there is large variability in the occurrence of these behaviors and the reason for this variability remains largely unexplored. Other types of maternal investment have been shown to be dependent on infant sex (e.g. milk production and maternal responsiveness) and maternal experience (e.g. symmetrical communication). Thus, we sought to determine whether variability in face-to-face interactions, that is, mutual gazing (MG), which are hypothesized to be important for later socio-cognitive development, could be explained by these variables. We studied 28 semi-free ranging rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) mother-infant dyads (6 primiparous; 12 male infants) born and reared at the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology field station at the NIH Animal Center in Poolesville, MD, across the first 90 postnatal days. Infant sex (i.e. male) was a significant predictor of maternal grooming (β ± SE = 0.359 ± 0.164, Z = 2.19, P = 0.029) whereas both parity (i.e. first time mothers) and infant sex (i.e. male) significantly predicted MG (parity: β ± SE = -0.735 ± 0.223, Z = -3.30, P < 0.001; infant sex: β ± SE = 0.436 ± 0.201, Z = 2.17, P = 0.029). Separation from the mother (outside of arm's reach) was not influenced by parity or infant sex. Together with existing literature, these findings point toward differential maternal investment for sons versus daughters. Mothers may be investing differentially in sons, behaviorally, to ensure their future social competence and thus later reproductive success. Collectively, our findings add to the literature that is beginning to identify early life experiences that may lead to sex differences in neurological and behavioral development.