Networking Ability a Family Trait in Monkeys
Two years of painstaking observation on the social interactions of a troop of free-ranging monkeys and an analysis of their family trees has found signs of natural selection affecting the behavior of the descendants. Rhesus macaques who had large, strong networks tended to be descendants of similarly social macaques, according to a Duke University team of researchers. And their ability to recognize relationships and play nice with others also won them more reproductive success.
“If you are a more social monkey, then you’re going to have greater reproductive success, meaning your babies are more likely to survive their first year,” said post-doctoral research fellow Lauren Brent, who led the study. “Natural selection appears to be favoring pro-social behavior.” The analysis, which appears in Scientific Reports, combined sophisticated social network maps with 75 years of pedigree data and some genetic analysis.