Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 338–345 | Cite as

Population trend alters the effects of maternal dominance rank on lifetime reproductive success in yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus)

  • S. K. WasserEmail author
  • G. W. Norton
  • S. Kleindorfer
  • R. J. Rhine
Original Article


We evaluated the association between dominance rank and lifetime reproductive success of 75 free-ranging female baboons in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. Data were evaluated over a 22-year period that included a period of troop increase (1975–1987) associated with two troop splits in 1978 and 1979, followed by a precipitous population crash (1987–1996) where the troops successively fused back together in 1989 and 1994. Lifetime reproductive success was significantly greater for high- versus low-ranking females when examined across the entire study period. High-ranking females had a longer reproductive life span (7.4 vs 3.6 years after first birth), reached menarche earlier (4.6 vs 5.2 years), lived longer (12.0 vs 8.8 years), and had more offspring of both sexes (2.25 vs 1.33 for male offspring; 3.25 vs 0.94 for female offspring), with four times the number of offspring of each sex surviving to 4 years of age compared to low ranking females. Greater offspring production was associated with shorter interbirth intervals of dominant versus subordinate females (545 vs 723 days), partly owing to lower miscarriage rates (0.05 vs 0.2) and a shorter duration of lactation (244 vs 330 days). Rank effects were then partitioned by mothers experiencing the majority of their reproductive life prior to, versus during, the population decline. The majority of rank effects on measures of lifetime reproductive success were virtually eliminated for mothers reproducing during the troop decline, indicating that the considerable impacts of social status on lifetime reproductive success can be markedly altered by intrinsically and extrinsically mediated demographic events.


Female lifetime reproductive success Dominance Baboons Predation Competition 



We thank Carl Bergstrom, Kathleen Hunt, and Sievert Rohwer for comments on the manuscript. Research at Mikumi National Park evolved from planning in 1971 with Jane Goodall. Many individuals and granting agencies have contributed to the project over the years (Rhine 1986). These include: grants to S.K. Wasser (1985–1993) from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Scholarly Studies Program and Women’s Committee of the Smithsonian Institution, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Louis Leakey Foundation and the National Geographic Society, as well as grants/donations to G.W. Norton (1986–1996) from the Norton family, the Clinton Family Trust, an anonymous donor, Anglia Polytechnic University and British Airways Assisting Conservation. We are grateful to the people and leaders of Tanzania for the opportunity to work at Mikumi, particularly to the late Hon. D. Bryceson, and to the leadership of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, and Tanzania National Parks. S. Kleindorfer was supported by the American Association of University Women. This field study complies with the current laws of Tanzania. We dedicate this paper to the memory of Ramon J. Rhine, whose vision was instrumental to the long-term research at Mikumi.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. K. Wasser
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. W. Norton
    • 2
  • S. Kleindorfer
    • 3
  • R. J. Rhine
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Conservation Biology, Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Sciences Research Centre, Department of Life SciencesAnglia Polytechnic UniversityCambridgeUK
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesFlinders University of South AustraliaAdelaide Australia
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California-RiversideRiversideUSA

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