The form and function of post-conflict interactions between female baboons

Joan B. Silk, Dorothy L. Cheney, Robert M. Seyfarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


In many primate species, former opponents engage in friendly behaviours after aggressive conflicts. These kinds of interactions are labelled reconciliation because they are thought to repair relationships damaged by conflicts and help to preserve group cohesion. This study assessed the form and function of reconciliation between free-ranging female baboons, Papio cynocephalus ursinus, in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The rate of interaction between former opponents was higher during the minutes that followed conflicts than in the days that preceded or followed conflicts. Baboons reconciled vocally, grunting quietly to their former opponents after conflicts ended. Grunts after conflicts facilitated infant handling. Females were particularly likely to reconcile with high-ranking opponents, the mothers of young infants and related mothers of older infants. Reconciliation had no consistent effect upon the rate of interactions during the days that followed conflicts. This study is the first to demonstrate that primates reconcile vocally and the first to assess the long-term consequences of reconcilation in a naturalistic setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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