Rhesus Macaques Build New Social Connections after a Natural Disaster
32 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020 Publication Status: PublishedMore...
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods and droughts. Understanding resilience and vulnerability to these intense stressors and their aftermath will be critical for species conservation and human adaptation. In 2017, Puerto Rico suffered its worst natural disaster, Hurricane Maria, which left 3000 dead and fostered a mental health crisis. Cayo Santiago, home to a population of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), was devastated by the same storm. We compared social networks of two groups of macaques before and after the hurricane and found an increase in affiliative social connections, driven largely by monkeys most isolated before Hurricane Maria. Partner-preference analysis revealed monkeys invested in building new relationships rather than strengthening existing ones. Evolved adaptations to environmental stochasticity may predispose rhesus macaques to success in rapidly changing anthropogenic environments.
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