Behaviour 2019
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Modeling conflict decisions in primate societies
Christopher J O'Connor-Coates1, Andreas Koenig1,2,3, Marcy Ekanayake-Weber1. 1Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States; 2Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States; 3Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States

Intragroup conflict may result in negative fitness consequences, placing group-living individuals under high selective pressure to manage conflicts. Making optimal conflict decisions is particularly important for animals like primates, but it is often unclear whom and what information primates use in their assessment. Here we use an agent-based model to investigate assessment strategies of primates by modeling six possible assessment strategy combinations of “whom” (self-only, opponent-only, or mutual), and “what information” (resource holding potential or history). We compared output dominance relationships to directional consistency, triangle transitivity, steepness, and proportional escalation data from the literature. All produced indices that were lower or higher than those obtained in natural populations. RHP-based opponent-only assessment produced the lowest proportion of escalation. Therefore, this strategy seems to best counter negative fitness consequences of conflict, meriting further investigation. More work is needed to test how cognitively complex animals may remember past conflicts, e.g., paying more attention to “upsets” than conflicts among those similar in rank.