The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Male dominance rank, access to females, and mating success in mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata): Testing the priority-of-access model


Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at San Antonio

Thursday 4:00-4:15, Ballroom B Add to calendar

The priority-of-access (PoA) model posits that high dominance rank increases male mating success by increasing access to fertile females. However, the relationship between rank, access to females, and subsequent mating success is unclear in many primate taxa. The purpose of this study is to test the relationship between these variables in an asynchronously breeding Neotropical primate species, Allouatta palliata, in order to contribute to our understanding of the function of dominance that will inform sexual selection theory and future models of reproductive skew. From January to December 2010, I collected 1741 H of focal data on adult males within 2 study groups (N=4 males in each group) at La Pacifica, Costa Rica. Male rank was determined based on agonistic interactions. Females were classified as potentially fertile (PF) or non-fertile (NF) based on behavioral and birth data. Access to mates was measured based on total time in 3 m proximity to PF females, and mating success was measured based on copulation frequency with PF females. Results from pooled data revealed that beta males obtained greater proportions of time in proximity to PF females than alpha and other males (x2=11.74, p=0.008). However, copulation frequency for beta males was significantly lower compared to alpha and other males (x2=11.22, p=0.011). These results suggest that access to potential mates does not necessarily increase mating success, and do not support predictions of the PoA model. Instead, ‘queue-jumping’ by lower-ranking males, as well as the reproductive strategies of females, may be operating to influence differential mating success.

This research was supported by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, and the Department of Anthropology and the International Education Fund at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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