Oil Palm Cultivation Critically Affects Sociality in an Endangered Malaysian Primate [post]

Anna Holzner, Krishna Balasubramaniam, Nadine Ruppert, Anja Widdig
2020 unpublished
Human-induced habitat alterations globally threaten animal populations, often evoking complex behavioural responses in wildlife. This may be particularly dramatic when negatively affecting social behaviour, which fundamentally determines individual fitness and offspring survival in group-living animals. Here, we provide first evidence for critical behavioural modifications in sociality of Southern pig-tailed macaques visiting Malaysian oil palm plantations in search of food. Specifically, we
more » ... nd significant reductions of positive social interactions, an increase of aggression and shifts in the macaques' social network structure, with the central positions of high-ranking adult females and immatures being passed to low-ranking individuals, likely resulting from socio-ecological risks posed by plantations. Deviations from natural behaviour also affected the smallest but crucial social units within groups, mother-infant pairs, with increased maternal protectiveness at plantations. We suggest that although primates can persist in human-altered habitats, their ability to adapt comes with a trade-off for their natural sociality, potentially hampering infant development and individual survival. Studies like ours remain critical for understanding species' adaptability to anthropogenic landscapes, which may ultimately contribute to facilitating their coexistence with humans and preserving biodiversity.
doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-129385/v1 fatcat:qzwhw6bwwzfe3dxsrgojtadc24