Research Report Part 3: Paternity, Male Social Rank, And Sexual Behaviour


, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 481-489

First online:

Male rank, reproductive behavior, and reproductive success in free-ranging rhesus macaques

  • John D. BerardAffiliated withCaribbean Primate Research Center, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus
  • , Peter NürnbergAffiliated withMedizinische Fakultat (Charite) der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, Institut fur Medizinische Genetik
  • , Jorg T. EpplenAffiliated withAbteilung fur Molekulare Humangenetik Ruhr-Universitat Bochum
  • , Jorg SchmidtkeAffiliated withInstitut fur Humangenetik, Medizinische Hochschule

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Paternity assessment through DNA fingerprinting by synthetic oligonucleotide probes was applied to one birth cohort in a social group of free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) on Cayo Santiago. The 11 group males and 9 males from other groups were observed mating with the females. Paternity was determined for 11 of the 15 infants. Male dominance rank was not associated with reproductive success. High-ranking resident males (N=5) sired 27% of the infants born during a one-year study. Four of the 11 infants of known paternity were sired by males of other social groups. The four infants of unknown paternity were sired either by males not observed mating with the females or the low-ranking male who was not fingerprinted. Male dominance rank was not associated with reproductive activity during conception cycles. These results suggest that the effect of rank on male reproductive success is not a predictable correlation, but a conditional probability.

Key Words

Macaca mulatta Cayo Santiago DNA fingerprinting Paternity Mating success Dominance