Some monkeys prone to isolation

December 19, 2017

Some individual animals are prone to social isolation, new research suggests.

The study of rhesus macaques showed some of the monkeys remain socially isolated for much of their lives, suggesting their isolation is caused by a persistent trait or traits.

The researchers - from the universities of Exeter, Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania - believe the cause is a mixture of their genes and other factors such as age, sex and family size.

Social isolation is linked to reduced life expectancy in many species, including humans.

"Understanding social isolation is really important, and studying macaques might give us clues about human behaviour," said Dr Lauren Brent, from the University of Exeter.

"Isolation is the latest epidemic among humans, and research has suggested it is as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

"Given the benefits of social integration, we need to understand why some individual animals tend to be socially isolated."

The researchers measured integration by observing how much time macaques spent grooming others and being groomed - a key social behaviour for the species.

The factors that played a role in isolation were age, sex, social status, group size and how long a macaque had belonged to a social group.

However, the identity of an animal's mother did not play a role, suggesting behaviour that leads to isolation is not learned from the mother.

Dr Brent said the findings suggest isolation could be partly maintained by natural selection - meaning there might be some evolutionary benefits.

The paper did not examine this in detail, but the possible benefits of isolation include lower risks of disease and conflict.

The data came from 429 adult rhesus macaques at the Cayo Santiago field station in Puerto Rico, which was devastated earlier this year by Hurricane Maria.

Researchers including Dr Brent have raised more than £70,000 to repair the field station and support people living nearby.
-end-
The paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is entitled: "Persistent social isolation reflects identity and social context but not maternal effects or early environment."

University of Exeter

Related Natural Selection Articles from Brightsurf:

Genetic determinants of fertility and ongoing natural selection in humans
A recent study presented at the ASHG 2020 Virtual Meeting suggests genetic variants may be associated with reproductive success.

Forearm artery reveals humans evolving from changes in natural selection
Humans haven't developed genetic mutations for telepathy or superpowers just yet, but a new study shows our species is still evolving in unique ways and changes in the natural selection could be the major reason.

Novel technology for the selection of single photosynthetic cells
New research, published in the journal Science Advances, demonstrates how microfluidic technologies can be used to identify, isolate and propagate specific single photosynthetically active cells for fundamental industry applications and improved ecosystem understanding.

Genomic selection in dairy cows creates opportunities not possible with traditional selection
The 2019 ADSA Annual Meeting featured the Joint ADSA/Interbull Breeding and Genetics Symposia titled ''Ten Years of Genomic Selection'' and ''Data Pipelines for Implementation of Genomic Evaluation of Novel Traits.'' Because of genomic selection's importance to dairy science, the Journal of Dairy Science invited the speakers to submit articles and share information from these symposia with a wider audience.

Recurrent genomic selection for wheat grain fructans
Development of Climate-Resilient, Nutritionally Improved Wheat

NASA's OSIRIS-REx in the midst of site selection
After a lengthy and challenging process, the team is finally ready to down-select from the four candidate sites to a primary and backup site.

The argument for sexual selection in bacteria
The evolutionary pressure to pass on DNA can produce behavior that otherwise makes no sense in a struggle to survive.

Sexual selection influences the evolution of lamprey pheromones
In 'Intra- and Interspecific Variation in Production of Bile Acids that Act As Sex Pheromones in Lampreys,' published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Tyler J.

Infection biology: Signs of selection in the stomach
Helicobacter pylori, a globally distributed gastric bacterium, is genetically highly adaptable.

Study finds natural selection favors cheaters
Natural selection predicts that mutualisms -- interactions between members of different species that benefit both parties -- should fall apart.

Read More: Natural Selection News and Natural Selection Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.