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International Journal of Primatology

Publication date: 2007-12
Volume: 28 Pages: 1417 - 1430
ISSN: 0164-0291, 1573-8604
DOI: 10.1007/s10764-007-9186-9
Publisher: Kluwer


Stevens, Jeroen MG
Vervaecke, Hilde ; de Vries, Han ; van Elsacker, Linda


despotism, dominance, egalitarianism, Pan paniscus, Behavioral Science & Comparative Psychology, 0608 Zoology


Bonobos have a reputation as a female-dominated and egalitarian species. We examined the 2 aspects of dominance in 6 captive bonobo groups. Females do not consistently evoke submission from all males in all contexts. Though females occupy the highest-ranking positions in the dominance hierarchy, there are in each group males that obtain rather high ranks and are able to dominate ≥1 female. Thus female dominance is not complete and hierarchies can be better described as nonexclusive female dominance. We studied egalitarianism by measuring linearity and steepness of dominance hierarchies. The hierarchies of all groups are highly linear. Hierarchies among males are steeper than among females. On average, male bonobos are more despotic than females, but females too can have despotic relations, both with other females and with males. Hence one can call bonobos in captivity semidespotic rather than egalitarian. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.