Poonam Melwani

Variation in the Social Behavior of Hamadryas Baboon Leader Males

Poonam Melwani (M.A., Hunter College ABC Program, City University of New York, 2013)

Poonam's project focused on variation in social behavior and activity patterns of the resident males, known as leader males, in hamadryas baboon one-male units (OMUs).  Poonam found that the behavior of leader males was influenced by both the number of females in his OMU and the presence of follower males in the OMU.  Males with larger OMUs and follower males engaged in sexual behavior at higher rates than males with smaller OMUs, but copulation rates, for both large and small OMUs, were higher for OMUs without followers.  In addition, leader males with followers were much more likely to groom their followers if their OMU was small than if their OMU was large. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the size of the leader male’s OMU has more influence on his activity patterns and relationships with individuals than his age or the presence of follower males. The primary role of a leader male is to protect his females and offspring and thereby ensure his own reproductive success, which is largely determined by the size of his OMU.