Social Group Ethogram

Social group formation at primate facilities is a dynamic process that is influenced by research, housing, clinical, and/or production requirements. The formation and maintenance of social groups can be challenging and requires close monitoring by trained personnel to ensure that the animals are compatible, and to perform interventions if they are not. The Social Group Ethogram was developed to facilitate behavioral assessments of socially-housed laboratory primates by focusing on key behaviors associated with compatibility. This ethogram was designed for assessing social groups of macaques and baboons, but it can be modified as needed for use with other species. The Social Group Ethogram is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but instead is meant to serve as a guide, consisting of behaviors deemed to be among the most relevant when assessing social interactions.

Key behaviors to be included in a socialization ethogram:

  1. Contact Aggression: Attack directed towards another animal. Behaviors may include hitting, biting, grabbing, pinning, hair-pulling.
  2. Grimace: A grin-like facial expression involving retraction of the lips exposing clenched teeth
  3. Lipsmack: Rapid, repetitive opening and closing of the lips; teeth are covered by lips, may be audible
  4. Mount: Actor standing behind recipient with hands on the recipient’s back, and feet either on the ground or grasping some portion of the recipient’s legs, with or without thrusting and intromission
  5. Non-contact aggression: Actions that are threatening, but do not involve physical contact with another animal. May include the following behaviors: head bob, open or round mouth threats, ear flap, stare, lunge, brow flash, slapping ground or cage, or lunging directed towards another animal.
  6. Present: Monkey exposes the rump, neck, ventrum, back or other surface of the body towards another animal in an exaggerated way.
  7. Proximity: Sitting or standing within an arm's reach of the other monkey.
  8. Resource Takeover: An animal supplants a recipient and occupies the space vacated by the recipient and/or animal takes food or other object from another animal
  9. Social Play: Non-aggressive chasing, bouncing, grabbing, wrestling, soliciting, and mock biting of another monkey. These behaviors are also often seen with an open mouth "play face, " (i.e., relaxed expression, slack jaw, open mouth, typically not exposing teeth)
  10. Withdraw: Monkey retreats past arm's reach in response to approach.