Cercocebus – Capped mangabeys

A rare case of gender-equal society in the animal world

Unlike many primate species that spend a significant amount of time in the trees, capped mangabeys are primarily terrestrial, navigating the forest floor with ease and agility. This terrestrial lifestyle is supported by their strong, muscular limbs, which enable them to cover considerable distances in search of food and to escape from predators. Capped mangabeys are active during the day (diurnal), dedicating their daylight hours to foraging, socializing, and moving within their home range.

Capped mangabeys live in large, mixed-gender groups, typically comprising 70 to 120 individuals, although larger congregations have been observed. These groups are characterized by complex social dynamics, including the formation of coalitions and the establishment of linear dominance hierarchies among both males and females. Within these hierarchies, higher-ranking individuals enjoy several advantages, such as preferential access to food resources and central positions within the group, which enhances their safety and social interactions. Higher-ranking females, in particular, are more centrally located within the group, reducing the time they need to spend foraging compared to their lower-ranking counterparts. Similarly, higher-ranked males tend to occupy more central positions, allowing them better access to nutritional resources and rest.

Capped mangabeys have developed sophisticated vocal communication systems, including acoustically distinct warning cries for different predator species. This adaptation allows them to effectively alert group members of potential threats, enhancing group cohesion and survival. Interestingly, these warning signals are also utilized by other monkey species within their habitat, demonstrating a form of interspecies communication and cooperation in predator avoidance.

As omnivores, capped mangabeys have a diet that primarily consists of plants (frugivores and granivores), including fruits, nuts, and seeds. This diet is supplemented with invertebrates, which provide additional protein and nutrients. Their foraging behavior is highly adaptive, allowing them to exploit the seasonal availability of food resources within their habitats.