, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 333-343
Date: 11 Oct 2005

The evolution of female copulation calls in primates: a review and a new model

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Female copulation calls are mating-associated vocalizations that occur in some species of Old World monkeys and apes. We argue that copulation calls have two immediate functions: to encourage mating attempts by other males and to increase mate guarding by the consort male. We hypothesize that female copulation calls have evolved under the selective pressures of risk of infanticide and sperm competition. When male mate guarding is effective, copulation calls allow females to concentrate paternity in dominant males and benefit from their protection against the risk of infanticide. When mate guarding is ineffective, copulation calls may bring genetic benefits to females through facilitation of sperm competition. We present a quantitative model in which interspecific variation in females' promiscuity predicts their tendency to use copulation calls in conjunction with mating. The model predicts that in species with little female promiscuity, copulation calls should be rare and exhibited only in association with mating with dominant males. In species in which females are highly promiscuous, copulation calls should be frequent and unrelated to male dominance rank. The limited data available to test the model support its main predictions as well as the predicted relation between copulation calls and male dominance rank.

Communicated by A. Cockburn