, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 247-263

Reproductive strategies of rhesus macaques

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Abstract

Reproductive strategies incorporate a multitude of mechanisms that have evolved to promote the reproductive success of individuals. Evolutionary perspectives tend to emphasize the advantages of male-male competition and female choice as mediators of differential reproduction. Male rhesus macaques have not been observed to fight for access to sexually receptive females, although they suffer more wounds during the mating season. An increased likelihood of attacks appears to coincide with male troop entry. Males who spend more time in consort and mate with more females tend to sire more offspring. Genetic analysis of paternity has pinpointed age and endurance rivalry, rather than agonistic competition, as key variables associated with variation in progeny production. Female rhesus macaques often copulate with multiple males during their ovulatory period, and tend to conceive on the first cycle of the mating season. Female reproductive success is more likely to be a function of offspring survivorship than the identity of particular male partners. The role of female choice as a direct mediator of male reproductive success is unresolved, but female mate selection seems to indirectly affect male reproductive success because female preference for mating with novel males seems to foster male dispersal. Evaluating whether mating preferences for particular male phenotypes affectsfemale reproductive success is a task for the future. A common denominator to the reproductive strategies of both female and male rhesus macaques is that feeding patterns affect body condition which influences reproductive output and regulates relative reproductive success.