A study on the social structure and dispersal patterns of hamadryas baboons living in a commensal group at Taif, Saudi Arabia

  • Mori A
  • Yamane A
  • Sugiura H
 et al. 
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Three levels of hamadryas social structure--the one male unit (OMU), the band, and the troop--have been observed at all sites studied, but a fourth--the clan--has been observed at only one site, Erer-Gota, Ethiopia, during a longitudinal check of the dispersion of identified individuals. The clan is important since it appears to provide the basis for male philopatry, although comparative data is needed from other sites to confirm this. We studied a huge commensal group of hamadryas baboons (over 600 animals) in Saudi Arabia. We put ear tags on baboons between 1998 and 2004 and analyzed social structure, relying on the interactions of these tagged animals by focusing especially on their dispersal patterns from OMUs. OMU membership tended to be looser than that of the Ethiopian hamadryas. Females tended to shift between OMUs on an individual basis in our study group, whereas the collapse of an OMU was a major occasion of adult female transfer in Ethiopia. We found neither stable bands (a "band" in our study group was defined as a regional assemblage of OMUs) nor clans that lasted for several years. Some OMUs moved and transferred into neighboring areas over both the short and long term. Further, some post-adolescent males appeared to move out of the study area. The ratio of adult females in an OMU in our study group was larger than for any other documented study site, and this may be the reason for enhanced female transfer between OMUs. A large proportion of the adolescent females showed no clear membership to OMUs, and no "initial units" (commonly observed in Ethiopia) were discernible. The ease with which young males acquired adult females at the study site must have disrupted the formation of a clan, a "male-bonded society."

Author-supplied keywords

  • Baboon
  • One male unit
  • Papio hamadryas
  • Philopatry
  • Saudi Arabia

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  • Akio Mori

  • Akihiro Yamane

  • Hideki Sugiura

  • Takayoshi Shotake

  • Ahmed Boug

  • Toshitaka Iwamoto

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