How a hurricane could also destroy social relationships among monkeys

About the episode

A hurricane can leave a trail of devastation, but the weather phenomenon also seems to affect the social structure of the ape community.

For this we have to go back to Hurricane Maria, which killed more than 3,000 people in Puerto Rico in 2017 and caused a 63 percent loss of vegetation on one of the islands, nicknamed Monkey Island.

A large number of rhesus monkeys live on this island. These animals were therefore left with very few trees and shelter. This means that in this hot part of the world, shade has suddenly become a rare commodity.

This completely changed the social relationships in the group, the researchers see after studying 10 years of data, before and after the destruction. Before the hurricane there was a constant fight for food and the best place to rest. Tolerance did not affect survival rate. But after the hurricane that changed.

Suddenly there was a shortage of shaded places while the temperature quickly reached 40 degrees outside. Then become a share or die. The whole group showed less aggression and more tolerance, which allowed the few sweet spots to be better shared

In fact, the tolerant monkeys’ odds of survival were 42% greater than average.

The new mentality also seeped into other activities. The monkeys who shared the shade also spent more time together at other times. Thus the hurricane destroyed the entire ape community.

Read more about the research here: The hurricane changed the “rules of the game” in the ape community

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Megan Vasquez

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