Patterns and trends in primate pair bonds

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70 Scopus citations


Pair-bonding may be a significant feature of the social repertoire of some primate species. However, discerning inter- and intraspecific pair bonds is problematic. I present an overview of the general behavior and ecology of species reported to occur in two-adult, pair-bonded groups. There is no two-adult grouped nonhuman primate species in Africa and only two types in Asia. Behavioral and ecological data suggest that the two-adult group or pair-bonding or both may have evolved separately 4-7 times. I propose that two pair-bond components - social pair bond and sexual pair bond - occur and can be defined and described in such a manner that facilitates comparative analysis across primate taxa. The evolution of grouping patterns in many two-adult grouped primates may be best modeled via evolutionary scenarios relying on direct dietary/energetic constraints, predation, and possibly mate-guarding. There is little support for the infanticide prevention and bodyguard hypotheses of female-choice models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-978
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Evolution
  • Infanticide
  • Pair bond
  • Predation
  • Resource pressure
  • Two-adult group


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