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Mating skew in Barbary macaque males: the role of female mating synchrony, female behavior, and male–male coalitions


Bissonnette, A; Bischofberger, N; van Schaik, C P (2011). Mating skew in Barbary macaque males: the role of female mating synchrony, female behavior, and male–male coalitions. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(2):167-182.

Abstract

A fundamental question of sexual selection
theory concerns the causes and consequences of reproductive
skew among males. The priority of access (PoA)
model (Altmann, Ann NY Acad Sci 102:338–435, 1962)
has been the most influential framework in primates living
in permanent, mixed-sex groups, but to date it has only
been tested with the appropriate data on female synchrony
in a handful of species. In this paper, we used mating data
from one large semi-free ranging group of Barbary
macaques: (1) to provide the first test of the priority-of-access model in this species, using mating data from 11
sexually active females (including six females that were
implanted with a hormonal contraceptive but who showed
levels of sexual activity comparable to those of naturally
cycling females) and (2) to determine the proximate
mechanism(s) underlying male mating skew. Our results
show that the fit of the observed distribution of matings
with sexually attractive females to predictions of the PoA
model was poor, with lower-ranking males mating more
than expected. While our work confirms that female
mating synchrony sets an upper limit to monopolization
by high-ranking individuals, other factors are also important.
Coalitionary activity was the main tactic used by males
to lower mating skew in the study group. Coalitions were
expressed in a strongly age-related fashion and allowed
subordinate, post-prime males to increase their mating
success by targeting more dominant, prime males. Conversely,
females, while mating promiscuously with several males during a given mating cycle, were more likely to initiate their consortships with prime males, thus reducing the overall effectiveness of coalitions. We conclude that
high-ranking Barbary macaque males have a limited ability to monopolize mating access, leading to a modest
mating skew among them.

Abstract

A fundamental question of sexual selection
theory concerns the causes and consequences of reproductive
skew among males. The priority of access (PoA)
model (Altmann, Ann NY Acad Sci 102:338–435, 1962)
has been the most influential framework in primates living
in permanent, mixed-sex groups, but to date it has only
been tested with the appropriate data on female synchrony
in a handful of species. In this paper, we used mating data
from one large semi-free ranging group of Barbary
macaques: (1) to provide the first test of the priority-of-access model in this species, using mating data from 11
sexually active females (including six females that were
implanted with a hormonal contraceptive but who showed
levels of sexual activity comparable to those of naturally
cycling females) and (2) to determine the proximate
mechanism(s) underlying male mating skew. Our results
show that the fit of the observed distribution of matings
with sexually attractive females to predictions of the PoA
model was poor, with lower-ranking males mating more
than expected. While our work confirms that female
mating synchrony sets an upper limit to monopolization
by high-ranking individuals, other factors are also important.
Coalitionary activity was the main tactic used by males
to lower mating skew in the study group. Coalitions were
expressed in a strongly age-related fashion and allowed
subordinate, post-prime males to increase their mating
success by targeting more dominant, prime males. Conversely,
females, while mating promiscuously with several males during a given mating cycle, were more likely to initiate their consortships with prime males, thus reducing the overall effectiveness of coalitions. We conclude that
high-ranking Barbary macaque males have a limited ability to monopolize mating access, leading to a modest
mating skew among them.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:02 Dec 2010 10:23
Last Modified:26 Jan 2017 08:47
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0340-5443
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-010-1023-z

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