Are interspecific associations of primates in the Western Ghats a matter of chance? A case study of the lion-tailed macaque

Joseph J. Erinjery, Honnavalli N. Kumara, T. S. Kavana, Mewa Singh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When animals or groups of animals in their wild habitats come close to each other within a defined distance, it is termed as an association. Observing two groups of the lion-tailed macaque at Nelliyampathy and Andiparai forests of the Western Ghats of India, we asked whether the lion-tailed macaque associations with the sympatric Nilgiri langur and bonnet macaque were by chance or had any biological significance. Employing 'all occurrences' sampling, we recorded an association if a group of another primate species came within 30 m of the focal group of the lion-tailed macaque. Date, time, associating species, activity of the study species and of the associating species, type of interaction, aggressor and the recipient, species displaced and duration of the association were recorded. We used the Waser gas model to calculate the expected frequency and duration of associations and compared them with the observed associations. The lion-tailed macaque spent less time in associations than expected. The lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri langur initiated associations less often, and remained in association for less time, than expected by chance. Whereas the expected and observed initiation of associations between the lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri langur in Nelliyampathy was significantly different (expected rate = 153; observed rate = 64), in Andiparai, it was not (expected rate = 55.5; observed rate = 61). The expected and observed association duration was significantly different in Nelliyampathy (expected duration = 54 min; observed duration = 15 min) and Andiparai (expected duration = 48 min; observed duration = 19 min). In contrast, we detected few differences between observed and expected association frequency for the lion-tailed macaque and the bonnet macaque. Aggressive interactions were common in areas where density of the Nilgiri langur groups was high. This is the first study on Asian primates using the ideal gas approach to show that primates do not form active associations with each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Macaca radiata
  • Nilgiri langur
  • Semnopithecus johnii
  • Western Ghats
  • bonnet macaque
  • community ecology
  • habitat fragmentation


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