, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 511-524
Date: 15 Dec 2004

Does promiscuous mating preclude female choice? Female sexual strategies in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) of the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire

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Abstract

According to sexual selection theory, females should selectively mate with high-quality males to enhance offspring survival and maximize reproductive success. Yet, chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) females are known to mate promiscuously. Although there is substantial rationale for a promiscuous mating strategy, there is also a strong expectation that females should be selective, and the question arises as to whether promiscuity precludes female choice. The aims of this study are to: (1) compare wild female chimpanzee sexual strategies throughout estrus, and (2) determine whether females exhibit mate preferences for particular males. Over 2,600 h of data were collected on two habituated chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) communities in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. Female mate preferences were measured by quantifying proceptivity and receptivity toward males. Results indicate that all females exhibited proceptivity and resistance to male solicitations, but that there was substantial variation in their magnitudes within and among females. Female proceptivity rates were lower and resistance rates were higher in the periovulatory period (POP) when conception is most likely. Females were more selective during POP, and more promiscuous outside of POP, suggesting that females may follow a mixed reproductive strategy, being selective when conception is likely and more promiscuous when conception is unlikely. Results from this study emphasize the importance of considering the fertility window when determining female mate preferences, and of examining female behavior in POP and non-POP phases separately when evaluating hypotheses for multi-male mating.

Communicated by C. Nunn