Flexibility in the social structure of male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Budongo Forest, Uganda

Gal Badihi, Kelsey Bodden, Klaus Zuberbühler, Samuni Liran, Cat Hobaiter*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Individuals of social species experience competitive costs and social benefits of group living. Substantial flexibility in humans' social structure and the combination of different types of social structure with fission–fusion dynamics allow us to live in extremely large groups—overcoming some of the costs of group living while capitalizing on the benefits. Non-human species also show a range of social strategies to deal with this trade-off. Chimpanzees are an archetypical fission–fusion species, using dynamic changes in day-to-day association to moderate the costs of within-group competition. Using 4 years of association data from two neighbouring communities of East African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), we describe an unexplored level of flexibility in chimpanzee social structure. We show that males from the larger Waibira community (N = 24–31) exhibited additional structural levels of semi-stable core–periphery society, while males from the smaller Sonso community (N = 10–13) did not. This novel core–periphery pattern adds to previous results describing alternative modular social structure in other large communities of chimpanzees. Our data support the hypothesis that chimpanzees can incorporate a range of strategies in addition to fission–fusion to overcome costs of social living, and that their social structures may be closer to that of modern humans than previously described.
Original languageEnglish
Article number220904
Number of pages20
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022


  • Sociality
  • Social network analysis
  • Fission-fusion
  • Primate
  • Ranging
  • Group-living


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