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Female-Female Competition and Male Mate Choice in Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

Jutta Kuester and Andreas Paul
Behaviour
Vol. 133, No. 9/10 (Aug., 1996), pp. 763-790
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4535393
Page Count: 28
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Female-Female Competition and Male Mate Choice in Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus)
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Abstract

Due to a strong breeding synchronization, the Barbary macaque is a likely candidate for female competition for access to mates, female reproductive suppression, and male mate choice. The present study evaluated the significance of these factors for the mating system of this species. Female competition was analysed from focal observations of 19 out of 59 potentially reproductive females in their conception period. Ad libitum recorded sexual interactions of all animals were used for an analysis of male mate choice. The focal females were aggressive towards females once per 6.1 h and received aggression from females once per 3.8 h. However, they were three times more frequently the target of male aggression (once per 1.2 h), whereby the aggressor was often the momentary sexual partner. Rate of aggression received from males and females was not related with female rank. Females of all cycle stages disturbed sexual contacts, whereby the intruder was dominant to the target in most episodes (86 out of 100). Intruders more attractive than their targets were most successful in terminating the sexual association of their target, but success of intrusions was low and not related with female rank. The intruder copulated with the former partner of her target in only 5 intrusion episodes. Rate and date of conception and infant survival was not related with female rank, indicating that aggression against females during the conception period and intrusions into sexual contacts did not impair reproduction. Therefore, female sexual competition is no regarded as a significant factor for the mating system of this species. Mating success of the 9 old males (≥ 10 years) was more than twice that of the 16 young males (7-9 years) which in turn was nearly twice that of the 12 adolescent males (4-6 years). Old males did not discriminate in favour of females which conceived, but the proportion of their matings with these females increased significantly with increasing female rank. The competitive inferior young males had a higher mating success with the less attractive low-ranking females. Adolescent males discriminated on the basis of female age. Paternity data revealed that adolescent males had their highest reproductive success with low-ranking females, indicating that their access to high-ranking females was effectively restricted by adult males. However, differences in reproductive success between old and young adult males with respect to female rank were small, when compared with the observed mating preferences. This indicates that either observational data underestimated the access of young males to high-ranking females, or that old males had good reproductive chances with low-ranking females despite a low mating effort. Since conception rate and infant survival were not related with female rank, male mate preferences had no immediate benefits. Results on offspring reproductive success revealed that males will benefit from a preference for high-ranking partners in the grandchildren generation. While maternal rank only weakly influence the reproductive success of daughters, it had a strong positive influence on the reproductive success of sons.

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