Washington: A new study has revealed that chacma baboons prefer to spend time with others of the same age, status and even personality.
Research led by the University of Cambridge and the Zoological Society of London shows that baboons, within a troop, spend more of their time with baboons that have similar characteristics to themselves: associating with those of a similar age, dominance rank and even personality type such as boldness. This is known as homophily or "love of the same."
Researchers say that this may act as a barrier to the transfer of new social information to the wider troop, as previous research done by the team shows baboons of a certain age and personality type, the younger, bolder animals, are more likely to be information generators, who solve new foraging problems.
Given that information generators spend much of their time in the company of similar baboons, researchers say there is a risk that acquired information may end up exclusively confined to other information generators, thus decreasing the likelihood of new knowledge being disseminated to the wider troop.
Within these big troop networks over time social preferences are generally dictated by age, rank, personality and so on, said first author Alecia Carter, adding this happens in humans all the time; they hang out with people who have the same income, religion, education etc. Essentially, it's the same in baboons.
Senior author Guy Cowlishaw said that the analysis is the first to suggest that bolder and shyer baboons are more likely to associate with others that share this personality trait and added that why baboons should demonstrate homophily for boldness is unclear, but it could be a heritable trait, and the patterns they're seeing reflect family associations.
Perhaps surprisingly, says Carter, gender was not a particular obstacle to social interaction, with females preferring to groom males. This is, in part, due to the obvious sexual engagements for breeding, but also as a tactic on the part of females to curry favour with particular males for the sake of their offspring.
The study appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science....