John Winans

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stony Brook U.

Grant number

Gr. 10355

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Winans, John (Stony Brook U.) "Social Responsiveness in Female Savannah Baboons: Individual Heterogeneity and Group-Level Outcomes"

JOHN WINANS, then a graduate student at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, received funding in April 2022 to aid research on “Social Responsiveness in Female Savannah Baboons: Individual Heterogeneity and Group-Level Outcomes,” supervised by Dr. Ann Catherine Markham. Interindividual social interactions have major effects on movement, but research on the evolution of this relationship in the human lineage is sparse. Addressing this gap is particularly important because evolutionary transitions in social complexity and long-distance travel behavior are central to concepts of human uniqueness. This dissertation project investigates the relationship between social responsiveness, or the extent to which individuals’ movements are informed by their neighbors’ movements, and collective movement outcomes in a well-studied population of wild baboons living in Amboseli, Kenya. Using novel stereo videography methods and GPS tracking, this project seeks to identify the factors promoting social responsiveness and test how individual variation in social responsiveness shapes collective movement decisions. By applying interdisciplinary methodological and intellectual approaches, this research yielded evidence supporting the hypothesis that differences in social responsiveness produces differences in influence over collective movement decisions. Specifically, the predicted effects of female reproductive state on decision outcomes are reduced or disappear as more males are present, indicating that males play an outsized role across at least two decision-making contexts. Because of the ecological and behavioral similarities between baboons and hominins, these results help contextualize hypotheses regarding the evolution of hominin social and movement behavior.