Reciprocity of support in coatis (Nasua nasua)

Teresa Romero*, Filippo Aureli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primate sociality has received much attention and its complexity has been viewed as a driving force for the evolution of cognitive abilities. Improved analytic techniques have allowed primate researchers to reveal intricate social networks based on the exchange of cooperative acts and services. Although nonprimates are known to show similar behavior (e.g., cooperative hunting, food sharing, coalitions) there seems a consensus that social life is less complex than in primates. Here the authors present the first group-level analysis of reciprocity of social interactions in a social carnivore, the ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua). The authors found that support in aggressive conflicts is a common feature in coatis and that this behavior is reciprocally exchanged in a manner seemingly as complex as in primates. Given that reciprocity correlations persisted after controlling for the effect of spatial association and subunit membership, some level of scorekeeping may be involved. Further studies will be needed to confirm our findings and understand the mechanisms underlying such reciprocity, but our results contribute to the body of work that has begun to challenge primate supremacy in social complexity and cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • aggression
  • coati
  • Nasua nasua
  • reciprocity
  • support

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