Dominance or Tolerance? Causes and consequences of a period of increased intercommunity encounters among bonobos (Pan paniscus) at LuiKotale

Liza R. Moscovice, Gottfried Hohmann, Benjamin C. Trumble, Barbara Fruth, Adrian V. Jaeggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Group-living primates exhibit variable reactions to intergroup encounters (or IGEs), reflecting species-specific strategies and individual motivations. In chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), dominating in IGEs provides fitness benefits. Less is known about responses to IGEs in bonobos (Pan paniscus) despite their equal relevance for understanding the origins of human intergroup relations. We observed the Bompusa West (WBp) bonobo community at LuiKotale during a 2-month shift in ranging resulting in frequent IGEs with the smaller Bompusa East (EBp) community. We tested whether incursions provided ecological benefits, and whether responses to IGEs were consistent with inter-community dominance or tolerance. We measured fruit availability and collected activity scans from 26 mature WBp community members when in their core ranging area, during incursions into the EBp ranging area, and during IGEs. We collected data on sexual interactions and aggression with in-group and out-group members during 19 independent IGEs. During their shift in ranging, fruit availability was greater in the EBp ranging area, and WBp bonobos consumed more fruit during incursions than when in their core ranging area. Coalitionary intergroup aggression occurred during nine IGEs, and outcomes were consistent with imbalances in fighting power, in that larger WBp parties supplanted smaller EBp parties from the immediate area. However, communities reformed associations following 70% of coalitionary conflicts, and prolonged IGEs facilitated out-group sexual interactions and female transfers. The WBp community shift in ranging was likely motivated by ecological factors and responses to increased IGEs reflected a mixture of competitive and tolerant strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-459
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Copulations
  • Female transfer
  • In-group
  • Out-group
  • Sociosexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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