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Effects of female group size on the number of males in blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) groups

Gao, Lu; Cords, Marina

The number of males per group varies substantially in group-living primates, both between and within species. In blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis), males may temporarily join groups during annual mating seasons when sexually receptive females are present. A likely determinant of the number of males per group is female group size (the number of adult females in a group). To clarify the role of female group size in driving variation in the number of males per group, we expanded on earlier observations of a wild population in the Kakamega Forest, Kenya with a larger sample of groups that varied fivefold in female group size. We found considerable flexibility in social organization, with groups experiencing multimale episodes both during and outside mating seasons, some persisting over multiyear periods. The dichotomy between single- and multimale mating seasons was less distinct than previously reported, suggesting greater variation in multimale states. Across 65 group-specific conception periods, female group size strongly influenced how often multiple sexually active females and multiple males were present in a group. The number of sexually active females present on a given day related closely to the number of males in the group that same day, especially during conception periods. Results suggest that males join and remain in larger groups where mating opportunities are greater and costs of joining or staying may be lower than in smaller groups. This longitudinal study highlights intraspecific social variation within and across groups while confirming that female group size influences the number of males.


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Also Published In

International Journal of Primatology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Published Here
September 7, 2021