, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 439-446

The reproductive consequences of male cooperation in the red howler monkey: paternity exclusion in multi-male and single-male troops using genetic markers

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Summary

Variance in male reproductive success in single and multi-male red howler (Alouatta seniculus) troops was examined through paternity exclusion using genetic markers. Coalitions of relatives were compared to coalitions of non-relatives with regard to duration, stability, and number of offspring expected for each participant based on paternity exclusion results. No evidence of paternity by males living outside of the troop was found. In multi-male troops, only the dominant male was found to father offspring conceived during his tenure. This was the only male observed to mount females. In both troops examined genetically wherein a status change had occurred, paternity changed with status. Coalitions of relatives and potential relatives lasted significantly longer than coalitions of non-relatives, and experienced fewer status changes between males. A direct advantage of forming a coalition for both dominant and subordinate red howler males resulted from the superior competitive ability of coalitions over single males in establishing and maintaining tenure in the limited number of female troops in the population. Although the mating success of a subordinate male in a coalition appears to be extremely low, his chances of achieving membership in a bisexual troop as a single male may be even lower. Since the majority of troops in the population during any given year were multi-male or age-graded male (85%–96%), the number of troops that a single male would be able to invade unaided was very small. A subordinate male may be able to assume dominance, particularly if he is a subadult. In coalitions in which males are related, the subordinate male will further benefit from inclusive fitness. A dominant male that forms a coalition with a relative can expect to have longer reproductive tenure than in a troop with a non-relative, thereby producing more offspring and directly enhancing his fitness. Anecdotal evidence suggests that males choose relatives over non-relatives as coalition partners when possible.