and Male Policing
How Targets of Aggression Interact with Bystanders
David P. Watts, Fernando Colmenares, & Kate Arnold
Pandora is an immigrant adult female mountain gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla beringei ) whose two immature offspring are her only relatives in Group 5. Puck is a natal female with several adult relatives in the group. Puck and Pandora rarely have friendly interactions, and aggression between them is common. The two females are feeding near each other when Ziz, the dominant male, starts a procession to a new feeding area. They follow, and their paths intersect; they jostle each other repeatedly and exchange “cough grunts. ” Suddenly Puck attacks, and the two scream as they grapple and bite each other. Puck's mother and sister also scream at Pandora. Within seconds, Ziz runs over and uses his tremendous size and strength advantage to stop the fight: he grabs Puck's shoulder with one hand and Pandora's with the other, pulls them apart, and restrains them until their struggles cease. Both females, still agitated, “grumble” to Ziz, apparently to appease him. Pandora puts her hand on his back as she grumbles and maintains physical contact with him as he walks off and then stops to feed. Puck glares at her as she leaves and then goes elsewhere to feed.
The literature on primate behavior is replete with descriptions and analyses of such interactions. Compared with most other mammals, many gregarious primate species are distinguished by high frequencies of aggressive interactions involving more than two individuals and by complex tactics to gain, provide, and manipulate support (Harcourt 1992). Opponents also commonly interact with third parties after aggressive conflicts. Such interactions occur in a rich social milieu and take many forms. Their frequency varies considerably across species and across classes of individuals within species, as does responsibility for their initiation.
Consider the options available to the recipient of aggression in the example above. Avoiding an