|Monkeys, Apes and Humans
Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia
Why Live in Groups
There are several major disadvantages to living in groups:1. Greater competition for food, mates, sleeping sites, and water.
2. Increase parasite and disease load.
There is an incidental reason why some animals live in groups. Concentrated valuable resources attract individuals. E.g., birds don't nest on cliffs because they benefit by being in a group. They nest together because they are attracted by a scarce resource: cliffs.
How do individuals benefit by living in groups?
1. Cooperative food collection. Wolves hunt together. By doing so each can more easily track and take down large game. Although the individual has to share meat, each still benefits from group hunting. Group hunting is less important in primates. Chimps hunt some but meat is not a major part of their diets. Group hunting is important in many human societies, however.
2. Sleeping together to conserve warmth. This explains why individuals form groups at night but it does not explain why groups are maintained during the day.
3. Shared information. By forming groups, individuals can exchange critical information (reciprocity). For example, frugivores let each other know where fruit trees are located.
4. Protection from predators. There are three reasons why an individual may live in group to avoid predation.
Department of Anthropology
| College of Arts and Science |
| University of Missouri-Columbia |
revised: fall 2004
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