Original Paper

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 65, Issue 8, pp 1615-1627

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Testing the priority-of-access model in a seasonally breeding primate species

  • Constance DubucAffiliated withJunior Research Group of Primate Sexual Selection, Reproductive Biology Unit, German Primate CenterDépartement d’anthropologie, Université de MontréalJunior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyCourant Research Center “Evolution of Social Behavior”, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Email author 
  • , Laura MunizAffiliated withJunior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • , Michael HeistermannAffiliated withReproductive Biology Unit, German Primate Center
  • , Antje EngelhardtAffiliated withJunior Research Group of Primate Sexual Selection, Reproductive Biology Unit, German Primate CenterCourant Research Center “Evolution of Social Behavior”, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • , Anja WiddigAffiliated withJunior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyInstitute of Biology, Faculty of Bioscience, Pharmacy and Psychology, University of Leipzig

Abstract

In mammals, when females are clumped in space, male access to receptive females is usually determined by a dominance hierarchy based on fighting ability. In polygynandrous primates, as opposed to most mammalian species, the strength of the relationship between male social status and reproductive success varies greatly. It has been proposed that the degree to which paternity is determined by male rank decreases with increasing female reproductive synchrony. The priority-of-access model (PoA) predicts male reproductive success based on female synchrony and male dominance rank. To date, most tests of the PoA using paternity data involved nonseasonally breeding species. Here, we examine whether the PoA explains the relatively low reproductive skew in relation to dominance rank reported in the rhesus macaque, a strictly seasonal species. We collected behavioral, genetic, and hormonal data on one group of the free-ranging population on Cayo Santiago (Puerto Rico) for 2 years. The PoA correctly predicted the steepness of male reproductive skew, but not its relationship to male dominance: the most successful sire, fathering one third of the infants, was high but not top ranking. In contrast, mating success was not significantly skewed, suggesting that other mechanisms than social status contributed to male reproductive success. Dominance may be less important for paternity in rhesus macaques than in other primate species because it is reached through queuing rather than contest, leading to alpha males not necessarily being the strongest or most attractive male. More work is needed to fully elucidate the mechanisms determining paternity in rhesus macaques.

Keywords

Dominance Reproductive skew Mating skew Priority-of-access model Genetic paternity analysis Primates Rhesus macaques