Original Paper

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 123-134

First online:

Reproductive seasonality is a poor predictor of receptive synchrony and male reproductive skew among nonhuman primates

  • Jan F. GogartenAffiliated withInterdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook UniversityDepartment of Biology, McGill University Email author 
  • , Andreas KoenigAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Stony Brook University

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Among nonhuman primates, male reproductive skew (i.e., the distribution of reproductive success across males) appears to be affected primarily by receptive synchrony and the number of males per group. These factors have been assumed to depend on reproductive seasonality, with strong seasonality increasing receptive synchrony, which in turn reduces the strength of male monopolization associated with more males and lower skew. Here we tested the importance of reproductive seasonality for 26 populations representing 15 species living in multimale groups. We obtained data from the literature on paternity, number of males per group, receptive synchrony, and three measures of seasonality of reproduction. We analyzed these data using bivariate regressions and hierarchical regression by sets and controlled for the effect of evolutionary relationships using phylogenetic generalized least squares. As expected, alpha male paternity decreased as the number of males per group increased as well as with increasing female receptive synchrony. Reproductive seasonality did not explain variation in reproductive skew over and above the variation explained by synchrony and the number of males. Reproductive seasonality alone only explained a small proportion of the variation in skew, and there was no strong association between reproductive seasonality and synchrony. The effects of receptive synchrony and reproductive seasonality as well as their link were reduced if we excluded captive populations. These results indicate that across primates male reproductive skew is related to the number of competitors in a group and that seasonality does not reliably predict synchrony or male reproductive skew.


Alpha paternity Multimale groups Nonhuman primates Priority-of-access Seasonality Synchrony