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Between-Group Competition Impacts Reproductive Success in Wild Chimpanzees.

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Preis, Anna 
Samuni, Liran 
Boesch, Christophe 
Crockford, Catherine 


Between-group competition in social animals appears to be a prominent selective pressure shaping the evolution of territoriality and cooperation [1-4]. Evidence for an effect of between-group competition on fitness in territorial species, however, is mostly lacking because of difficulty in measuring between-group competition and its long-term impact [5]. Between-group competition corresponds to a complex set of interactions between neighboring groups, and its intensity seems to depend on the competitive abilities of each interacting group [6, 7]. We tested whether the competitive ability of groups and the pressure exerted by neighboring groups affected the reproductive success of wild female chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). Using long-term data on four neighboring groups in the Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire, collected over the course of 54 observation years, we measured the competitive ability of habituated groups using the number of mature males and the pressure exerted by non-habituated neighbors with an index of neighbor pressure that combined the frequency of neighboring encounters and related spatial information. Importantly, we found that experiencing low neighbor pressure provides fitness benefits through increased offspring survival and shorter inter-birth intervals. Also, many males in a group are associated with shorter inter-birth intervals. We conclude that high between-group competition hampers fast reproduction and offspring survival when exposure is during the prenatal period. Our findings suggest that having many males in a group results in fitness benefits and that between-group competition should be considered as a potential selective pressure that shaped key social adaptations in the hominoid lineage.



inter-birth interval, neighbor pressure, survival, territoriality, within-group competition, Animals, Competitive Behavior, Cote d'Ivoire, Female, Male, Pan troglodytes, Reproduction

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Curr Biol

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Elsevier BV