Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 18, pp 2205–2211 | Cite as

Dominance rank of adult females and mating competition in Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains, China

  • HaiXia He
  • HaiTao Zhao
  • XiaoGuang Qi
  • XiaoWei Wang
  • SongTao Guo
  • WeiHong Ji
  • ChengLiang Wang
  • Wei Wei
  • BaoGuo Li
Open Access
Article Special Issue Adaptive Evolution and Conservation Ecology of Wild Animals Progress of Projects Supported by NSFC


Dominance hierarchy reflects resource competition in male primates as well as females. In this study, we collected data on the social rank and mating competition of female Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys from September 2009 to June 2010 in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi, China. Displacement was used to determine social hierarchy of the studied wild females. A total of 1223 displacement bouts between adult females and 316 mating behaviors within one-male units (OMUs) were recorded. Competitive displacement among females was very low (0.22 displacements per observation hour). The dominant ranks of females in target OMUs were determined by displacement, from one OMU to another: JB unit: YL > DBC > YCM >XBC > BD; JZT unit: XHW > JG > DT; PK unit: QQ > TM > HF; LP unit: SK > TH > WM. Higher-ranking females performed significantly more sexual behavior than lower-ranking females in this rare monkey. High-ranking females were more likely to win mating contests within those OMUs. Based on these studies, we assessed the social relationships among adult females and clarified possible explanations for the strategies of female mating competition in the OMUs. Furthermore, the notion that reproductive success may also be related to female dominance hierarchies in this polygynous species should be considered in future research.


Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellanafemale dominance rank displacement behavior mating competition reproduction 


  1. 1.
    Maslow A H. The role of dominance in the social and sexual behavior of infrahuman primates. J Genet Psychol, 1934, 48: 261–277Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zuckerman S. The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co, 1932Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Pereira M E, Kaufman R, Kappeler P M, et al. Female dominance does not characterize all of the Lemuridae. Folia Primatol, 1990, 55: 96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wilson E O. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1975Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    de Waal F B M. Dominance’ style’ and primate social organisation. In: Staden V, Foley R A, eds. Comparative Socioecology. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. 243–263Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Walters J R, Seyfarth R M. Conflict and cooperation. In: Smuts B B, Cheney D L, Seyfarth R M, et al., eds. Primate Societies. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1987. 306–317Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Emlen S T. The evolution of helping. I. An ecological constraints model. Am Nat, 1982, 119: 29–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Emlen S T. The evolution of helping. II. The role of behavioral conflict. Am Nat, 1982, 119: 40–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Emlen S T. Benefits, constraints and the evolution of the family. Trends Ecol Evol, 1994, 9: 282–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Vehrencamp S L. A model for the evolution of ‘despotic’ versus ‘egalitarian’ species. Anim Behav, 1983, 31: 667–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Reeve H K, Keller L. Partitioning of reproduction in mother-daughter versus sibling associations: A test of optimal skew theory. Am Nat, 1995, 145: 119–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Qi X G, Zhang P, Li B G, et al. The diversity of polygynous system in multi-levei society of non-human primates (in Chinese). Acta Theriol Sin, 2010, 30: 322–338Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kawai M. Ecological and Sociological Studies of Gelada Baboons. Tokyo: Kodansha Limited, 1979Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    van Schaik C P. The ecology of social relationships amongst female primates. In: Standen V, Foley R A, eds. Comparative Socioecology. The Behavioral Ecology of Humans and Other Mammals. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. 195–218Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zhang P, Watanabe K, Li B G. Female social dynamics in a provisioned free-ranging band of the Sichuan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains, China. Am J Primatol, 2008, 70: 1–10Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Li B G, Li H Q, Zhao D P, et al. Study on dominance hierarchy of the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in Qinling Mountains (in Chinese). Acta Theriol Sin, 2006, 26: 18–25Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bygott J D. Agonistic behavior, dominance and social structure in wild chimpanzees of the Gombe National Park. In: Hamburg D A, McCown E R, eds. The Great Apes, Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings, 1979. 405–427Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    de Waal F B M. Exploitative and familiarity-dependent support strategies in a colony of semi-free living chimpanzees. Behaviour, 1978, 66: 268–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Noe R, de Waal F B M, van Hooff J. Types of dominance in a chimpanzee colony. Folia Primatol, 1980, 34: 90–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bernstein I S. Dominance: The baby and the bathwater. Behav Brain Sci, 1981, 4: 419–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Drews C. The concept and definition of dominance in animal behavior. Behaviour, 1993, 125: 283–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Berenstain L, Wade T D. Intrasexual selection and male mating strategies in baboons and macaques. Int J Primatol, 1983, 4: 201–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Robinson J G. Intrasexual competition and mate choice in primates. Am J Primatol, 1982, 1: 131–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Shively C, Smith D G. Social status and reproductive success of male Macaca fascicularis. Am J Primatol, 1985, 9: 129–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Li B G, Chen C, Ji W H, et al. Seasonal home range changes of the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in Qinling Mountains of China. Folia Primatol, 2000, 71: 375–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Qi J F. The feed and reproduction of the Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys. In: Chen F G, ed. Progress in the Study of Sichuan Snub-nosed Monkeys. Xi’an: Northwest University Press, 1989. 287–292Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Li B G, Zhao D P. Copulation behavior within one-male groups of wild Rhinopithecus roxellana in the Qinling Mountains of China. Primates, 2007, 48: 190–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Zhang P, Li B G, Wada K Z, et al. Social structure of a group of golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains of China (in Chinese). Acta Zool Sin, 2003, 49: 727–735Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Qi X G, Li B G, Tan C L, et al. Spatial structure in a golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) group in Qinling Mountains while being in no-locomotion (in Chinese). Acta Zool Sin, 2004, 50: 697–705Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Zhang P, Watanabe K, Li B G, et al. Dominance relationship among one-male units in a provisioned free-ranging band of the Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains, China. Am J Primatol, 2008, 70: 634–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    de Vries H. An improved test of linearity in dominance hierarchies containing unknown or tied relationships. Anim Behav, 1995, 50: 1375–1389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rowell T E. The concept of social dominance. Behav Biol, 1974, 131–154Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Sterck E H M, Steenbeek R. Female dominance relationships and food competition in the sympatric Thomas langur and Long-tailed macaque. Behaviour, 1997, 134: 749–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Li B G, Zhang P, Watanabe K, et al. Does allogrooming serve a hygienic function in the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (in Chinese). Acta Zool Sin, 2002, 48: 707–715Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Zhang J, Zhao D P, Li B G. Postconflict behavior among female Rhinopithecus roxellana within one-male units in the Qinling Mountains, China. Curr Zool, 2010, 56: 222–226Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Korstjens A H, Sterck E H M, Noe R. How adaptive or phylogenetically inert is primate social behavior? A test with two sympatric colobines. Behaviour, 2002, 139: 205–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ren R M, Qi H, Liang B, et al. The reconciliation behavior of golden monkeys Rhinopithecus roxellana in small breeding groups. Primates, 1991, 32: 321–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Isbell L A, Young T P. Ecological models of female social relationships in primates: Similarities, disparities and some directions for future clarity. Behaviour, 2002, 139: 177–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Koenig A. Competition for resources and its behavioral consequences among female primates. Int J Primatol, 2002, 23: 759–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Goodall J. The chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Nishida T. The social structure of chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. In: Hamburg D A, McCown E R, eds. The Great Apes. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings, 1979. 73–122Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Nishida T, Hosaka K. Coalition strategies among adult male chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. In: McGrew W C, Marchant L F, Nishida T, eds. Great Ape Societies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 114–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    David F, Peter S. Dominance and the social behavior of adult female bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata). Primates, 1981, 22: 368–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hand J L. Resolution of social conflicts: Dominance, egalitarianism, spheres of dominance and game theory. Q Rev Biol, 1986, 61: 201–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Li B G, Zhao D P. Female multiple copulations among wild Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in Qinling, China. Chin Sci Bull, 2005, 50: 942–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Harcourt A H. Dominance and fertility among female primates. J Zool, 1987, 213: 471–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • HaiXia He
    • 1
  • HaiTao Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • XiaoGuang Qi
    • 1
  • XiaoWei Wang
    • 2
  • SongTao Guo
    • 1
  • WeiHong Ji
    • 2
    • 3
  • ChengLiang Wang
    • 2
  • Wei Wei
    • 1
  • BaoGuo Li
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyShaanxi Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.Institute of Natural Resources, Massey UniversityAlbany, AucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations