, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 357-484

Male Dominance Rank, Female Mate Choice and Male Mating and Reproductive Success in Captive Chimpanzees

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Abstract

Mating and consequently reproductive success in male vertebrates are predominantly determined by intermale competition and female mate choice. Their relative importance however, is still poorly understood. We investigated the interrelationship between male dominance rank — a formal indicator of male competitive ability — female mate choice, and male mating success in a multimale-multifemale group of captive chimpanzees. In addition, we examined the relationship between male dominance rank and reproductive success determined by genetic paternity analysis over a 13-yr period in the same captive population. We related the frequencies of sociosexual behaviors to the female anogenital swelling stage and female fertile phase as determined by urinary and fecal progestogen analysis. Rates of behaviors in both sexes increased with increasing intensity of female swelling, but they were not influenced by the timing of the fertile phase. Male mating success was clearly related to male dominance rank, with high-ranking males performing the overwhelming majority of copulations. This was mainly due to both rank-related rates of male soliciting behavior and intermale aggressiveness during the period of well-developed female anogenital swelling. Although females solicited copulations mainly from the high-ranking males and thus expressed a mate choice based on rank, their overall contribution in initiating copulations and thus influencing male mating success was low. The data on paternity from the population, which always contained 4 adult males, revealed that α-males sired the majority (65%) of offspring. We conclude, that male dominance rank is an important determinant of male mating and reproductive success in captive (and presumably wild) chimpanzees and that female mate choice is of minor importance in modulating male reproductive outcome.