A new study led by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has found that female white-faced capuchin monkeys living in the rainforests of northwestern Costa Rico, who are better integrated into social networks with other adult females, survive longer.
Together with her research team, Professor Perry tracked the social interactions of female capuchin monkeys with other females, males and companions of any gender and age based on 18 years of data. The interactions considered in the study included giving and receiving grooming, foraging nearby, and participating in coalition conflicts, such as intervening in conflicts to help each other fight, stalk, or make aggressive noises and facial expressions.
Although the analysis found no evidence that heterosexual relationships conferred any survival benefits on females, it did clearly show that social integration in networks with other adult females greatly increased their chances of survival.
“We found the strongest evidence that social integration into female networks predicts survival. Females that frequently groomed and foraged in close proximity to other females had a higher survival rate,” the authors explained.
“We also found little support that females who frequently gave and received coalitional support from other females may have had survival advantages. The fact that female interactions with other females in all behavioral domains demonstrates at least some evidence of a beneficial effect on survival suggests that females cultivate strong relationships with each other.”
Further research is needed to better understand why relationships with other females have the greatest impact on the survival of female capuchin monkeys and whether this phenomenon occurs in other monkey species.