Thermal consequences of increased pelt loft infer an additional utilitarian function for grooming: Thermal Benefits of Grooming

McFarland, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-9269, Henzi, S.P., Barrett, L., Wanigaratne, A., Coetzee, E., Fuller, A., Hetem, R.S., Mitchell, D. and Maloney, S.K., 2016. Thermal consequences of increased pelt loft infer an additional utilitarian function for grooming: Thermal Benefits of Grooming. American Journal of Primatology, 78 (4), pp. 456-461. ISSN 0275-2565

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Abstract

A strong case has been made that the primary function of grooming is hygienic. Nevertheless, its persistence in the absence of hygienic demand, and its obvious tactical importance to members of primate groups, underpins the view that grooming has become uncoupled from its utilitarian objectives and is now principally of social benefit. We identify improved thermoregulatory function as a previously unexplored benefit of grooming and so broaden our understanding of the utilitarian function of this behavior. Deriving the maximum thermal benefits from the pelt requires that it be kept clean and that the loft of the pelt is maintained (i.e., greater pelt depth), both of which can be achieved by grooming. In a series of wind-tunnel experiments, we measured the heat transfer characteristics of vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) pelts in the presence and absence of backcombing, which we used as a proxy for grooming. Our data indicate that backcombed pelts have improved thermal performance, offering significantly better insulation than flattened pelts and, hence, better protection from the cold. Backcombed pelts also had significantly lower radiant heat loads compared to flattened pelts, providing improved protection from radiant heat. Such thermal benefits, therefore, furnish grooming with an additional practical value to which its social use is anchored. Given the link between thermoregulatory ability and energy expenditure, our findings suggest that grooming for thermal benefits may be an important explanatory variable in the relationship between levels of sociability and individual fitness.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: American Journal of Primatology
Creators: McFarland, R., Henzi, S.P., Barrett, L., Wanigaratne, A., Coetzee, E., Fuller, A., Hetem, R.S., Mitchell, D. and Maloney, S.K.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: April 2016
Volume: 78
Number: 4
ISSN: 0275-2565
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1002/ajp.22519DOI
1492401Other
Rights: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: McFarland, R., Henzi, S. P., Barrett, L., Wanigaratne, A., Coetzee, E., Fuller, A., …Maloney, S. K. (2016). Thermal consequences of increased pelt loft infer an additional utilitarian function for grooming: Thermal Benefits of Grooming. American Journal of Primatology, 78(4), 456-461, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22519 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 16 Nov 2021 09:47
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:47
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/44801

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