Rank, relationships, and responses to intruders among adult male vervet monkeys

Richard Schuster, Michael J. Raleigh, Michael T. McGuire, David Torigoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the influences of dyadic relationships among captive adult male vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) on behavior directed toward caged “intruder” males placed inside subjects' enclosures. Subjects were all 9 adult male residents from three stable social groups, each of which contained 3 adult males, at least 3 adult females, and their immature offspring. Every male was observed in two 3‐hour sessions, each time with one of the 2 other adult males from his group. Observation sessions consisted of six consecutive 30‐min stages in which group composition and the presence of the intruder were manipulated. All groups exhibited a stable, linear male dominance hierarchy prior to and throughout the study. In each group, there was one pair of males, when together, in which each member exhibited higher rates of intruder‐directed approach and aggressive behaviors than when either animal was paired with the third male of his social group. Such pairs were also distinguished by high levels of within‐pair agonistic interactions. The higher‐ranking member of each dyad was the most aggressive male toward the intruder in his social group, although only one of these animals was the dominant male of his group. Mutual facilitation of aggression against intruding males is interpreted as cooperative behavior benefitting both males by increasing the likelihood of repelling a potential competitor for resident females. Such cooperation provides further evidence in nonhuman primates for cohesive male‐male dyads between animals whose social interactions are characterized by agonism. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


  • aggression
  • cooperation
  • hierarchy
  • vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus)
  • xenophobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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