Environmental and genetic causes of maturational differences among rhesus macaque matrilines

Abstract

Females of many cercopithecine primates live in stable dominance hierarchies that create long-term asymmetries among sets of female relatives (matrilines) in access to limiting resources and shelter from psychosocial stress. Rank-related differences in fitness components are widely documented, but their causes are unclear. Predicted breeding values from an animal model for female age of first reproduction are used to discriminate between shared additive genetic and shared environmental effects among the members of matrilines in a population of free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). While age of first reproduction has a modest heritability (≈0.2), breeding values are distributed in a largely random fashion among matrilines and contribute little to the observed rank-related differences in average age of first reproduction. These results support the long-held, but previously unverified, contention that rank-related life history differences in female cercopithecine primates are the result of environmental rather than genetic differences among them.

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Acknowledgements

Cayo Santiago is part of the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC), which is supported by the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The facility is also supported by Grant Number CM-5 P40 RR003640-20 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of NIH. The contents of this report are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or NIH. The genetic database from which paternity data were provided was originally created by John Berard, Fred Bercovitch, Matt Kessler, Michael Krawczak, Peter Nürnberg, and Jorg Schmidtke. The National Science Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the University of Berlin, Deutsche Forschungsmeinschaft, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, NIH, and CPRC funded the creation of the genetic database. Additional funding for this research came from the University of Illinois Graduate College. Melissa Gerald, John Cant, Terry Kensler, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, and Jean Turnquist were all helpful resources while working with CPRC materials. Angel “Guelo” Figueroa, Edgar Davila, and Elizabeth Maldonado must be credited for the completeness and upkeep of the demographic records on Cayo Santiago. John Berard and Donald Sade provided data and discussion on social rank. Steve Leigh, Paul Garber, Charles Roseman, Rebecca Stumpf, and Jim Cheverud all provided helpful insights on this project. Comments from Martin Kowalewski, Melissa Raguet, the associate editor, and two anonymous referees also improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Gregory E. Blomquist.

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Blomquist, G.E. Environmental and genetic causes of maturational differences among rhesus macaque matrilines. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63, 1345–1352 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-009-0792-8

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Keywords

  • Social dominance
  • Breeding value
  • Quantitative genetics
  • Heritability
  • Female maturation
  • Cayo Santiago