, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 417–433

Mating patterns, mate choice, and birth season heterosexual relationships in free-ranging rhesus macaques

  • Joseph H. Manson

DOI: 10.1007/BF02381951

Cite this article as:
Manson, J.H. Primates (1994) 35: 417. doi:10.1007/BF02381951


Birth season adult heterosexual nonkin relationships of 50 free-ranging female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in two social groups at Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico were examined using focal follow (289 hr) and ad lib data. Eighty-eight percent of subjects had at least one relationship characterized by particularly high frequencies of spatial proximity, grooming, or both. These were designated “friendships.” Males intervened in aggressive interactions more frequently on behalf of Friends than non-Friends. Female aggressive support of males was extremely rare. Higher-ranking males experienced more friendships than lower-ranking males. High-ranking females had higher-ranking Friends than low-ranking females. Older females had higher-ranking Friends than younger females. Females groomed high-ranking Friends more than they were groomed by them, whereas they groomed low-ranking Friends less than they were groomed by them. In one social group, high-ranking females were more likely than low-ranking females to groom their Friends more than they were groomed by them. Males were more responsible than females for spatial proximity maintenance in 9 of 14 Friend dyads for which sufficient data were available. Neither male nor female dominance rank affected responsibility for proximity maintenance in Friend dyads.

Eight of 24 females had friendships with males with whom they had completed copulations during their conception peri-ovulatory period of the preceding mating season. Two of 19 females completed peri-ovulatory copulations with Friends during the following mating season. Friendship was not correlated with either of two demonstrated female mate choice indicators: (1) proximity maintenance during estrus; or (2) cooperation with male “hip-grasp” courtship attempts. Males directed “muzzle-up” courtship signals at lower rates toward Friends than toward non-Friends.

These and other investigators' results indicate that (1) protection from aggression is the primary benefit to female rhesus macaques of birth season heterosexual relationships; (2) the most effective protectors are in greatest demand as Friends; and (3) friendship has no effect or an inhibitory effect on mate choice in this species. Benefits to males of friendships were not apparent from this study but may include coalitional support against lower-ranking males.

Key Words

Macaca mulatta Heterosexual relationships Mate choice Cayo Santiago 

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph H. Manson
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of MichiganUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesU. S. A.

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