Do different monkey species at Kibale get along?
In Kibale National Park in Uganda, a national park with 13 species of primates, interactions between species are often the most complex and surprising.
Redtail monkeys spend most of their time in the company of other monkey species, specifically red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys and occasionally L’Hoest’s monkeys. In fact, we often observe redtails being far more tolerant of other species than of other redtails from neighboring groups. In the same day, we often witness grooming and play between redtails and other monkey species (granted also displacements and aggression). In contrast, redtail monkeys in different groups are almost always aggressive towards each other when ranges overlap.
Protection from predators and/or improved foraging may be the reasons behind all of this redtail mixed species association. Despite this seeming tolerance between species, researchers (Alain Houle, Colin Chapman and others) working at Kibale National Park have also found that a hierarchy may exist among frugivorous monkeys: blue monkeys and mangabeys appear to dominate the redtails in feeding competition for ripe fruits of certain tree species. When in the same feeding tree, blue monkeys and mangabeys gain access to higher quality sugar-rich fruits compared to redtails.
Here, a red colobus monkey grooms a reclining redtail monkey:
Further scientific reading:
Chapman, C. A., & Chapman, L. J. (2000). Interdemic variation in mixed-species association patterns: common diurnal primates of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 47(3), 129-139.
Houle, A., Chapman, C. A., & Vickery, W. L. (2010). Intratree vertical variation of fruit density and the nature of contest competition in frugivores. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(3), 429-441.