, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 661-668
Date: 10 Jan 2007

Estrus cycle asynchrony in wild female chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii

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Abstract

Although estrous synchrony has been reported in a number of mammalian species, most often among primates, methodological and analytical problems make it difficult to interpret these results. We developed a novel estrous synchrony index and employed a randomization procedure to analyze long-term observations of female chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) estrous cycles at the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Our results revealed that female chimpanzees at Mahale avoid synchronizing their estrous periods with each other. We also found that birthrates decreased as the breeding sex ratio increased. We suggest that estrous asynchrony decreases female–female competition for mates. Asynchrony may also reduce the potential for male sexual coercion by nonpreferred mating partners.

Communicated by S. Alberts