Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 68, Issue 7, pp 1097–1108 | Cite as

Dominance rank, female reproductive synchrony, and male reproductive skew in wild Assamese macaques

  • Manakorn Sukmak
  • Worawidh Wajjwalku
  • Julia Ostner
  • Oliver SchülkeEmail author
Original Paper


In groups with multiple males, direct mate competition may select for the evolution of dominance hierarchies that sort males into a queue for access to fertile females. The priority-of-access (PoA) model proposed by Altmann in 1962 makes explicit predictions about the resulting paternity distribution based on an interaction between male dominance rank and the overlap of female receptive phases. Here, we investigated whether the logic of the PoA model predicted the distribution of paternity across ranks in a seasonal breeder with high reproductive synchrony over six consecutive mating seasons. We studied 18 males that resided in a group of wild Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) in their natural habitat at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, between 2006 and 2011 with 5 to 13 conceptions per season. We assessed whether mate guarding increased paternity success, described “short-term” deviations from predicted paternity distribution, and examined how these are related to the number of competitors and fertile females. We determined genetic paternity of 43 (93 %) offspring born into the study group and found reproductive skew to be relatively low with 29 % alpha male paternity in accordance with the high degree of female reproductive synchrony observed. Short-term deviations from expected paternity distribution over ranks were not explained by the number of resident males or the number of conceiving females or their interaction. Within the limits of this study, these results suggest that even if males cannot discern female fertile phases, if reproduction is seasonal, and if reproductive synchrony is high, males may also compete directly over access to females.


Priority-of-access model Paternity Dominance Reproductive skew Primates Assamese macaques Number of males Reproductive synchrony 



We thank the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for the permission to conduct this study and for all the support granted. We are grateful to Kitti Kreetiyutanont, Mongkul Kumsuk, Kanjana Nitaya, and Jarupol Prabnasuk (Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary) for their cooperation and permission to carry out this study. We thank A. Koenig and C. Borries (Stony Brook University), who developed the field site at Huai Mai Sot Yai. We thank D. Bootros, N. Bualeng, A. Chunchaen, I. Fürtbauer, M. Heesen, R. Intalo, N. Juntuch, S. Jumrudwong, M. Karlstetter, Thipusa Kilawit, Sally MacDonald, W. Nueorngshiyos, D. Pesek, N. Ponganan, S. Rogahn, P. Saaisawasthikul, M. Swagemakers, B. Whitman, and T. Wisate for their excellent help in the field. We also thank N. Bhumpakphan, W. Eiadthong (Kasetsart University), and W. Brockelman (Mahidol University) for the support and cooperation. We would also like to thank the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University, Thailand. We are grateful to Linda Vigilant and Jojo Bhagavatula who established the paternity analyses for this study and thank Chris Young for the help with the statistical analyses. We thank Anja Widdig, Antje Engelhardt, and five anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on different versions of the manuscripts. This research was supported by the Max-Planck Society, the National Geographic Society, and the German Initiative of Excellence through funds to the University of Göttingen as well as by the Center of Excellence on Agricultural Biotechnology, Science and Technology Postgraduate Education and Research Development Office, Office of Higher Education Commission, Ministry of Education (AG-BIO/PERDO-CHE).

Ethical standards

This study was conducted completely noninvasively and under the permission of the authorities of Thailand, i.e., the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) (permits 0004.3/3618 and 0002.3/2647), and we adhered to the Guidelines of the Use of Animals in Research and the guidelines of the involved institutions.

Supplementary material

265_2014_1721_MOESM1_ESM.doc (49 kb)
Supplementary Material Table 1 (DOC 49 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manakorn Sukmak
    • 1
    • 2
  • Worawidh Wajjwalku
    • 3
  • Julia Ostner
    • 4
  • Oliver Schülke
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Agricultural BiotechnologyKasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen CampusBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Center of Excellence on Agricultural Biotechnology: (AG-BIO/PERDO-CHE)BangkokThailand
  3. 3.Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineKasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen CampusBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Courant Research Centre Evolution of Social BehaviourGeorg August University of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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