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Comparative Development of Heterosexual and Homosexual Behaviors in Free-Ranging Female Japanese Macaques

Abstract

We used cross-sectional focal data collected in adolescent and adult females to elucidate the comparative development of heterosexual and homosexual behaviors in female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) living at Arashiyama, Japan, in a group where adult females routinely exhibit sexual interactions with both males and females. Our data fully or partially supported most of our predictions (20 out of 30) related to the “learning hypothesis,” which postulated that adolescence would serve to provide young females with a period in which to practice, and gradually acquire, three types of adult female-like heterosexual and homosexual behavioral patterns, namely sexual solicitations, sexual mounts, and spatio-temporal coordination during consortships. However, there were marked differences in the development of heterosexual and homosexual behaviors. The percentage of homosexual mounts was significantly higher in adolescent than in adult females. Of the fully or partially supported predictions, 13 of 15 pertained to heterosexual activity whereas only seven of 15 pertained to homosexual activity. A number of sexual behavioral patterns (e.g., demonstrative solicitations, range of solicitation patterns and mounting postures, and grasping behavior during consortships) emerged earlier and developed faster when directed to females than when directed to males. We explain such differences in terms of risk of male aggression, males’ disinterest in adolescent females’ sexual solicitations, presence of motivated same-sex sexual partners, social facilitation, and sexual reward.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the following agencies: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB), the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, as well as the Office of the Dean of Arts and Science and the Office of Research Services at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. We thank John R. Sylla from the AIB. We thank Penny D’Agnone for help securing AIHS funding. We thank the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature at the University of Hawaii-Manoa for office space and support. We thank S. Asaba, S. Tamada, and J. Hashiguchi for permission to work at Arashiyama Monkey Park and fruitful discussion in the field. We thank the Enomoto family of Arashiyama for logistical support in Japan. We thank the Editor and one anonymous reviewer for fruitful comments on a previous version of the article.

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Leca, JB., Gunst, N. & Vasey, P.L. Comparative Development of Heterosexual and Homosexual Behaviors in Free-Ranging Female Japanese Macaques. Arch Sex Behav 44, 1215–1231 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0437-5

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Keywords

  • Learning hypothesis
  • Adolescence
  • Sexual solicitation
  • Mounting
  • Consortships
  • Primates