Group compositional changes impact the social and feeding behaviors of captive hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas hamadryas)

Amy M. Ryan, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The formation and modification of social groups in captivity are delicate management tasks. The ability for personnel to anticipate changes in group dynamics following compositional changes can increase the likelihood of successful management with minimized injury or social instability. Hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas hamadryas) have a distinctive multi-level social system comprising of one-male units (OMUs) that can make it difficult to apply knowledge from other primates' multi-female/multi-male social structure to changes imposed onto captive hamadryas baboon groups. We conducted an observational study of the behavioral impacts following the introduction of two females into the group of hamadryas baboons at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Prospect Park Zoo in NY to test hypotheses about the relationships between changes in group composition and social and feeding behavior. Generalized linear mixed models demonstrated that social interactions significantly increased following the compositional changes, even in groups that only experienced member removals. The increase in affiliative social behavior observed suggests that during times of social stress or uncertainty, hamadryas baboons may employ social behavior as a tension-reducing mechanism to negotiate relationships as opposed to using aggression to engage in competitions for ranks and resources. The observed response to compositional changes implies that hamadryas baboons may respond with less aggression than do other Old World monkey species and that levels of affiliative behavior may be a more accurate metric for evaluating introduction success in hamadryas baboons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Group compositional changes
  • Introductions
  • Old World monkeys
  • Removals
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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