Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 749–765 | Cite as

The efficacy of female choice in chimpanzees of the Taï Forest, Côte d’Ivoire

  • R. M. StumpfEmail author
  • C. Boesch
Original Article


Male–male competition has historically been considered the major force driving sexual selection. However, female choice and inter-sexual conflict are increasingly recognized as important influences affecting differential mating and reproductive success. Many females exhibit preferences for particular males; however, male strategies may conflict with females’ ability to obtain their mate preferences. To influence paternity, females must affect both (1) whether or not sexual interactions occur, particularly during the periovulatory period (POP) and (2) the outcome of sexual interactions. This study focuses on the effectiveness of female choice in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). Over 2,600 h of data were collected on two habituated chimpanzee communities in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. Female mate preferences were measured by quantifying proceptive and resistance behavior toward males in both the periovulatory period and non-POP phases of estrus. The efficacy of female preference was measured both (1) by measuring success rates of female proceptivity and resistance behaviors and (2) by determining how well measures of female mate preference (proceptivity and resistance rates) predict male mating success. Though male chimpanzees are clearly dominant to females, the results indicate that females could effectively resist male solicitations and, in most cases, unwanted copulations were averted. Both female proceptivity and resistance rates correlate (positively and inversely, respectively) with male mating success in POP. Outside POP, female proceptivity rates corresponded with male mating success, but resistance rates did not. Males (irrespective of rank) that were preferred by females obtained higher mating success compared to other males during the POP, suggesting that females were effective in their mate choice and that, despite clear male dominance, female choice influences paternity in wild chimpanzees.


Chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus Female choice Sexual conflict 



The authors wish to thank the Centre Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique, the Ministèere de la Recherche Scientifique in Côte d’Ivoire, the Ministèere de l’Agriculture et des Resources Animales, Côte d’Ivoire, and the direction of Taï National Park for permission to conduct this research. R.M.S would particularly like to thank Diane Doran-Sheehy, John Fleagle, Patricia Wright, Charlie Janson, John Polk, Daniel Stahl, Charles Roseman, Germán Bollero, all members of the Taï Chimpanzee Project, particularly Valentin Gagnon, Camille Bolé, Nicaise Oulaï Daurid, Cathy Crockford, Tobias Deschner, Ilka Herbinger, and Roman Wittig, as well as helpful comments from two anonymous reviewers. Quidel Corporation generously donated ovulation and pregnancy test kits. Funding was provided by a National Science Foundation doctoral dissertation grant to R.M.S. and the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. This study complies with Côte d’Ivoire regulations.


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© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany

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