Grooming Reciprocity in Female Tibetan Macaques Macaca Thibetana

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Biological Sciences

Publication Date



Grooming among nonhuman primates is widespread and may represent an important service commodity that is exchanged within a biological marketplace. In this study, using focal animal sampling methods, we recorded grooming relationships among 12 adult females in a free-ranging group of Tibetan macaques (Macaca thibetana) at Huangshan, China, to determine the influence of rank and kinship on grooming relationships, and whether females act as reciprocal traders (exchange grooming received for grooming given) or interchange traders (interchange grooming for social tolerance or other commodities). The results showed that: (1) grooming given was positively correlated with grooming received; (2) kinship did not exert a significant influence on grooming reciprocity; and (3) grooming reciprocity occurred principally between individuals of adjacent rank; however, when females of different rank groomed, females tended to groom up the hierarchy (lower ranking individuals groomed higher ranking individuals more than vice versa). Our results support the contention that both grooming reciprocity and the interchange of grooming for tolerance represent important social tactics used by female Tibetan macaques.


This article was originally published in American Journal of Primatology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download through ScholarWorks @ CWU.


American Journal of Primatology


Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons