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Journal Article

Behavioral responses to injury and death in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

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Campbell, L. A. D., Tkaczynski, P. J., Mouna, M., Qarro, M., Waterman, J., & Majolo, B. (2016). Behavioral responses to injury and death in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Primates, 57(3), 309-315. doi:10.1007/s10329-016-0540-4.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-C982-2
The wounding or death of a conspecific has been shown to elicit varied behavioral responses throughout thanatology. Recently, a number of reports have presented contentious evidence of epimeletic behavior towards the dying and dead among non-human animals, a behavioral trait previously considered uniquely human. Here, we report on the behavioral responses of Barbary macaques, a social, non-human primate, to the deaths of four group members (one high-ranking adult female, one high-ranking adult male, one juvenile male, and one female infant), all caused by road traffic accidents. Responses appeared to vary based on the nature of the death (protracted or instant) and the age class of the deceased. Responses included several behaviors with potential adaptive explanations or consequences. These included exploration, caretaking (guarding, carrying, and grooming), and proximity to wounded individuals or corpses, and immediate as well as longer-lasting distress behaviors from other group members following death, all of which have been reported in other non-human primate species. These observations add to a growing body of comparative evolutionary analysis of primate thanatology and help to highlight the multifaceted impacts of human-induced fatalities on an endangered and socially complex primate.