Male-female interactions in multimale groups of mountain gorillas.
Authors of this article are:
Habumuremyi S, Deschner T, Fawcett KA, Robbins MM.
A summary of the article is shown below:
Male-female social interactions may vary according to female receptivity, female parity, and male dominance rank. Such variation may be less apparent in species with one-male mating systems than those with multimale mating systems, as within-group male-male competition and female mate choice are absent. Examining variation in male-female interactions in multimale groups in species with a predominantly one-male mating system may help to shed light on plasticity in behavioral patterns and the evolution of mating systems. In this study, we investigated the effect of female receptivity (i.e., days when mating occurred), female parity, and male dominance rank on the patterns of spatial proximity, grooming, following, and aggression among 34 male-female dyads in four multi-male groups of Virunga mountain gorillas. In addition, as a preliminary investigation of potential physiological costs incurred by females in a mating context (coercion), we tested whether female receptivity and female parity explained variation in immunoreactive glucocorticoid (iGC) levels of females. The amount of time male-female dyads spent in close proximity was significantly higher for parous versus nulliparous females and for high- versus low-ranking males. The rate of male aggression to females did not vary significantly with female parity, male rank, or female receptivity. However, post hoc analysis showed that both proximity and aggression increased for the males that participated in the matings on days that females were receptive. Grooming and following by males occurred infrequently. Neither female receptivity nor parity influenced iGC levels in females, a finding that is more consistent with courtship than coercion of females by males. Overall, our results suggest that males advertise their ability to provide protection to females and their offspring, and females seek out males that can do so.
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affiliation;coercion;courtship;glucocorticoid;mountain gorillas;social relationships
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