, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 159–175 | Cite as

A four-year study of the association between male dominance rank, residency status, and reproductive activity in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

  • John Berard


Considerable controversy exists on the nature of the relationship between male dominance rank and reproductive activity. The nature of this relationship has important implications for understanding the manner in which males compete for access to limited resources. Behavioral data on mating patterns were collected over a four-year period from one social group of rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago. Correlations between dominance rank and reproductive activity were not stable over a four-year period, but changed yearly. Positive, significant correlations were present in the first two years of the study while non-significant correlations were found in the second two years. The variation found in the correlations between rank and mating activity could be accounted for by changes in the mating frequencies of different classes of males. The long-term resident males had declines in ejaculation frequencies over the duration of the study. Males who immigrated into the group had yearly increases in reproductive behavior over three consecutive years. Maturing natal males also increased their levels of reproductive activity from year-to-year. Combining these mating patterns over time resulted in shifting the proportions of matings away from the long-term residents and in favor of the new males. High-ranking males had an advantage in reproductive activity over the first two years of the study, as measured by both the total number of ejaculations and the mean number of ejaculation per male. New males, comprised of recent immigrants and maturing natal males, had a greater level of reproductive activity over the last two years. These results suggest that the effect of rank on reproductive activity is variable and that males utilize alternative tactics to attain access to limited resources. Simple one-factor models explaining the relationship between rank and reproductive activity must be replaced with models explaining how alternate strategies affect male competition and reproductive success in primates.

Key Words

Dominance rank Reproductive behavior Mating success Immigration Cayo Santiago 


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© Japan Monkey Centre 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Berard
    • 1
  1. 1.Caribbean Primate Research CenterPunta SantiagoUSA

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