Social Behavior

The talapoin monkey has a multimale-multifemale social system. The large groups divide into subgroups which are all males, females and offspring, and juvenile males and females. The subgroups stay together and the whole group moves in the same direction, but the subgroups tend to take separate routes (Rowell, 1973). Individuals tend to only associate closely for most of the time with 1 to 3 other individuals in the group and avoid the rest of the group members (Wolfheim, 1977a). Except for breeding season, there is little interaction between males and females (Rowell and Dixon, 1975), and even in the breeding season males may avoid females who are not maximally swollen during estrus because the female may attack the male (Wolfheim, 1977a). During the breeding season, it was found in the wild that receptive females will break away from the female and offspring group and join groups with adult males (Rowell and Dixon, 1975). This mixed-sex group would forage and travel high in the canopy, while the group of non-receptive females and offspring would forage and move lower in the forest (Rowell and Dixon, 1975). In captivity it was found that only the highest ranking males would receive a majority of the copulations, but in the wild most of the adult males in the group copulated (Rowell and Dixon, 1975). In captivity it was found that the highest ranking male will behaviorally suppress the ability of lower ranking males from reproducing (Abbott et al., 1986). The end result is that the highest ranking male receives most of the copulations (Abbott et al., 1986). Also in captivity the highest ranking females inhibit the sexual behavior of subordinate females both behaviorally and endocrinologically (Abbott et al., 1986). Subordinate females were also found to attack males that showed any sexual interest in them (Abbott et al., 1986). It should be noted that dominance hierarchies were only found to occur in captivity and were not found in the wild. Adult females are more social than adult males, spending long periods sitting and grooming with other females (Wolfheim, 1977b).

The talapoin monkey has a tendency to recruit other group members when attacking an individual (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). When an individual attacks it will look at and give pant chirps to other individuals that it is not attacking and they respond by joining in on the attack (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Females, both adults and juveniles, tend to mob attack males, and males will be able to defend themselves against one or two females but are too many for a male to defend himself against (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). It was found in captivity that when many females gang up to attack a male they can harass him so much that the male could die (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Individuals when attacked or threatened may attack a third individual, usually of a lower rank, as a show of redirected aggression (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). This redirected aggression may be passed down the hierarchical line so as to include all members of the group (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Males will join coalitions with females that have initiated aggression against higher ranking males (Yodyingyuad et al., 1982). Higher ranking males will reciprocate aggression from females, but low-ranking males will not reciprocate aggression from females (Yodyingyuad et al., 1982).

Play in the talapoin monkey mostly takes place between juveniles, but adults also engage in play (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). This species has two types of play, wrestling which includes grabbing, grappling, and batting and sometimes includes playface and running which includes fast chasing of one individual by another (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Running can be a solitary activity or could include groups of talapoin monkeys (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Both sexes of juveniles in engage in play (Wolfheim and Rowell, 1972). Males tend to engage in social play more often than females (Wolfheim, 1977b). Wrestling is done more often by males than females, and males tend to wrestle more with other males than with females (Wolfheim, 1977b). Males also engage in batting more than females (Wolfheim, 1977b).

Last Updated: October 15, 2003.
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