, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 205-214
Date: 06 Oct 2006

Paternal kin bias in the agonistic interventions of adult female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

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When agonistic interventions are nepotistic, individuals are expected to side more often with kin but less often against kin in comparison with non-kin. As yet, however, few mammal studies have been in a position to test the validity of this assertion with respect to paternal relatedness. We therefore used molecular genetic kinship testing to assess whether adult female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) from the free-ranging colony of Cayo Santiago (Puerto Rico) bias their interventions in ongoing dyadic aggressive interactions towards maternal and paternal half-sisters compared with unrelated females. It turned out that females supported maternal half-sisters significantly more often than paternal half-sisters or non-kin regardless of the costs associated with such interventions. Similarly, females targeted maternal half-sisters significantly less often than non-kin when this was associated with high costs. Unrelated females provided significantly higher mean rates of both high- and low-cost support to each other than did paternal half-sisters. However, females targeted paternal half-sisters significantly less often than non-kin when targeting was at low cost, suggesting that females refrain from intervening against paternal half-sisters. Our data confirm the general view that coalition formation in female mammals is a function of both the level of maternal relatedness and of the costs of intervention. The patterns of coalition formation among paternal kin were found to be more complex, and may also differ across species, but clear evidence for paternal kin discrimination was observed in female rhesus as predicted by kin selection theory.

Communicated by P. Kappeler