International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 109–125

Is There Adaptive Value to Reproductive Termination in Japanese Macaques? A Test of Maternal Investment Hypotheses

  • Linda Marie Fedigan
  • Mary S. McDonald Pavelka


Evolutionary biologists often argue that menopause evolved in the human female as the result of selection for a postreproductive phase of life, during which increased maternal investment in existing progeny could lead to enhanced survivorship of descendents. Adaptive theories relating menopause to enhanced maternal investment are known as the mother (first-generation) and grandmother (second-generation-offspring) hypotheses. Although menopause—universal midlife termination of reproduction—has not been documented in primates other than humans, some researchers have argued that postreproductive alloprimates also have a positive impact on the survivorship of first and second generation progeny. We tested the maternal investment hypotheses in Japanese macaques by comparing the survivorship of offspring, final infants, and great-offspring of females that terminated reproduction before death with females that continued to reproduce until death. SURVIVAL analyses revealed no significant difference in the survivorship of descendents of postreproductive and reproductive females, though final infants of postreproductive females were 13% more likely to survive than final infants of females that reproduced until death were. We also explored possible differences between these two groups of females, other than survivorship of progeny. We found no difference in dominance rank, matrilineal affiliation, body weight, infant sex ratio, age at first birth, fecundity rate or lifetime reproductive success. However, postreproductive females are significantly longer-lived than reproductive females and as a result experienced more years of reproduction and produced more infants in total. Apart from final infants, offspring survival is marginally lower in postreproductive females. Since offspring survival is not significantly enhanced in postreproductive females, the greater number of infants produced did not translate into greater lifetime reproductive success. Our findings fail to support the maternal investment hypotheses and instead suggest that reproductive termination in this population of Japanese macaques is most closely associated with enhanced longevity and its repercussions.

menopause Macaca fuscata reproductive senescence grandmother hypothesis maternal investment 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Marie Fedigan
    • 1
  • Mary S. McDonald Pavelka
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgary

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