Play and social dynamics in a captive herd of gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada)

Here, we provide quantitative data concerning adult and immature play distribution in geladas discussing the results in the light of their social dynamics. Sex differences in immature play does not seem to reflect sex differences in adult role; in fact, frequency, modality (C-play and LR-play), and motivation (measured by play initiations) to play did not vary according to the different sex-class combinations. The occurrence of adult-adult play suggests that geladas are characterized by an apparent more than actual rigidity in their social relationships and this is particularly evident in females which show peculiar traits in the use of social play. Specifically, adult females played with other adult females as much as with immature ones, thus suggesting their high motivation to engage in such interactions. This adult play behavioural pattern is typical of species showing relaxed/fluid more than despotic/rigid social relationships. Such assumption is also supported by the positive correlation observed between play and affinitive behaviours (grooming and agonistic support) found within each age-category (adult females and immature subjects). This evidence, together with the lack of correlation between aggressive contacts and social play, suggests that geladas use play for social assessment purposes and/or to increase their social affiliation levels. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Here, we provide quantitative data concerning adult and immature play distribution in geladas discussing the results in the light of their social dynamics. Sex differences in immature play does not seem to reflect sex differences in adult role; in fact, frequency, modality (C-play and LR-play), and motivation (measured by play initiations) to play did not vary according to the different sex-class combinations. The occurrence of adult-adult play suggests that geladas are characterized by an apparent more than actual rigidity in their social relationships and this is particularly evident in females which show peculiar traits in the use of social play. Specifically, adult females played with other adult females as much as with immature ones, thus suggesting their high motivation to engage in such interactions. This adult play behavioural pattern is typical of species showing relaxed/fluid more than despotic/rigid social relationships. Such assumption is also supported by the positive correlation observed between play and affinitive behaviours (grooming and agonistic support) found within each age-category (adult females and immature subjects). This evidence, together with the lack of correlation between aggressive contacts and social play, suggests that geladas use play for social assessment purposes and/or to increase their social affiliation levels. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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