, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 73-92,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Nov 2011

Male Mating Tactics in Captive Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta): The Influence of Dominance, Markets, and Relationship Quality


Male mating success in a multimale–multifemale group can depend on several variables: body condition, dominance, coalitions, “friendship,” or an exchange of services for mating access. Exchange patterns may also be determined by market effects or social relationships. We studied the mating tactics of males in a captive, multimale–multifemale group of rhesus macaques and the resulting patterns of mating and paternity to determine the influence of dominance rank, mating markets, and relationship quality on their mating tactics. Male rank was positively related to the total number of copulations and the number of mating partners, but did not explain male mating distribution completely. Moreover, male fertilization success was not related to male rank. Males did not exchange grooming for mating access on the same day and neither the supply nor the rank (as a proxy for quality) of receptive females affected the amount of male grooming, suggesting that market effects did not explain male mating access. However, there was a positive correlation between long-term grooming patterns of both males and females and mating access, indicating that social relationships were important for male mating access. Paternity data revealed that these social relationships were also important for male reproductive success. We conclude that both male rank and male–female “friendship” determined male mating access in these rhesus macaques, but that “friendship” was more important in determining paternity, emphasizing the importance of intersex social bonds in male mating success in multimale primate societies.