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Attractiveness of female sexual signaling predicts differences in female grouping patterns between bonobos and chimpanzees

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Here we show that sexual signaling affects patterns of female spatial association differently in chimpanzees and bonobos, indicating its relevance in shaping the respective social systems. Generally, spatial association between females often mirrors patterns and strength of social relationships and cooperation within groups. While testing for proposed differences in female-female associations underlying female coalition formation in the species of the genus Pan, we find only limited evidence for a higher female-female gregariousness in bonobos. While bonobo females exhibited a slightly higher average number of females in their parties, there is neither a species difference in the time females spent alone, nor in the number of female party members in the absence of sexually attractive females. We find that the more frequent presence of maximally tumescent females in bonobos is associated with a significantly stronger increase in the number of female party members, independent of variation in a behavioural proxy for food abundance. This indicates the need to look beyond ecology when explaining species differences in female sociality as it refutes the idea that the higher gregariousness among bonobo females is driven by ecological factors alone and highlights that the temporal distribution of female sexual receptivity is an important factor to consider when studying mammalian sociality. © 2021, The Author(s).
Journal: Communications Biology
Issue: 1
Volume: 4
Pages: 1119
Publication year:2021
Keywords:Animals, Female, Mating Preference, Animal, Pan paniscus/psychology, Pan troglodytes/psychology, Social Behavior