The effects of dominance rank and group size on female lifetime reproductive success in wild long-tailed macaques,Macaca fascicularis

Abstract

Demographic changes were recorded throughout a 12-year period for three social groups ofMacaca fascicularis in a natural population at Ketambe (Sumatra, Indonesia). We examined the prediction that females' lifetime reproductive success depended on dominance rank and group size. Average birth rate was 0.53 (184 infants born during 349 female years). For mature females (aged 8–20 yr) birth rate reflected physical condition, being higher in years with high food availability and lower in the year following the production of a surviving infant. High-ranking females were significantly more likely than low-ranking ones to give birth again when they did have a surviving offspring born the year before (0.50 vs 0.26), especially in years with relatively low food availability (0.37 vs 0.10). Controlled comparisons of groups at different sizes indicate a decline in birth rate with rroup size only once a group has exceeded a certain size. The dominance effect on birth rate tended to be strongest in large groups.

Survival of infants was rank-dependent, but the survival of juveniles was not. There was a trend for offspring survival to be lower in large groups than in mid-sized or small groups. However, rank and group size interacted, in that rank effects on offspring survival were strongest in large groups. High-ranking females were less likely to die themselves during their top-reproductive years, and thus on average had longer reproductive careers.

We estimated female lifetime reproductive success based on calculated age-specific birth rates and survival rates. The effects of rank and group size (contest and scramble) on birth rate, offspring survival, age of first reproduction for daughters, and length of reproductive career, while not each consistently statistically significant, added up to substantial effects on estimated lifetime reproductive success. The group size effects explain why large groups tend to split permanently.

Since females are philopatric in this species, and daughters achieve dominance rank positions similar to their mother, a close correlation is suggested between the lifetime reproductive success of mothers and daughters. For sons, too, maternal dominance affected their reproductive success: high-born males were more likely to become top-dominant (in another group). These data support the idea that natural selection has favored the evolution of a nepotistic rank system in this species, even if the annual benefits of dominance are small.

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van Noordwijk, M.A., van Schaik, C.P. The effects of dominance rank and group size on female lifetime reproductive success in wild long-tailed macaques,Macaca fascicularis . Primates 40, 105–130 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02557705

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Key words

  • Lifetime reproductive success
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Birth rate
  • Mortality
  • Survival
  • Dominance rank
  • Group size