The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


The effect of female preference on male integration in a captive rhesus macaque social group (Macaca mulatta)

SHANNON K. SEIL1, MEGAN E. JACKSON1, DARCY L. HANNIBAL1, KIMBERLY P. BANTA1, BRIANNE A. BEISNER1,2 and BRENDA MCCOWAN1,3.

1California National Primate Research Center, University of California at Davis, 2Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 3Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis

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Among rhesus macaques, male immigration into new social groups is facilitated by affiliation and sexual relationships with females and hindered by competition with resident males. Because resident males interfere with females’ attempts to affiliate with novel males, it can be difficult to assess the degree to which female preference facilitates novel male integration. Here, we evaluate the role of grooming in facilitating male integration by assessing the changes in female grooming behavior associated with replacement of resident natal males with novel males in a captive social group at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC). The results show that females directed a greater proportion of total grooming bouts towards novel (x=.50) versus natal (x=.25) males (LR Χ2=20.69; df=1; p<0.0001). Among novel males, sexually mature (>5 years of age) males received a higher number of grooming bouts (x=12 bouts versus x=2 bouts) than sub-adult (4-5 years of age) males (LR Χ2=16.66; df=1; p<0.0001). Additionally, amount of female grooming received was negatively correlated with trauma rates among males and positively correlated with male survivorship in the group. Our data supports female preference of sexually mature, novel males, and grooming as a mechanism of successful integration. These results in combination with data presented by Hannibal et al (these proceedings) suggest that novel male relationships with resident females are more important than male competition in determining male integration into rhesus macaque social groups.

This project was supported by National Institutes of Health grants #R24 RR024396 and #PR51 RR000169

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