Till death (or an intruder) do us part: intrasexual-competition in a monogamous Primate

Journal article


Fernández-Duque, Eduardo and Huck, Maren 2013. Till death (or an intruder) do us part: intrasexual-competition in a monogamous Primate. PLos ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053724
AuthorsFernández-Duque, Eduardo and Huck, Maren
Abstract

Polygynous animals are often highly dimorphic, and show large sex-differences in the degree of intra-sexual competition and aggression, which is associated with biased operational sex ratios (OSR). For socially monogamous, sexually monomorphic species, this relationship is less clear. Among mammals, pair-living has sometimes been assumed to imply equal OSR and low frequency, low intensity intra-sexual competition; even when high rates of intra-sexual competition and selection, in both sexes, have been theoretically predicted and described for various taxa. Owl monkeys are one of a few socially monogamous primates. Using long-term demographic and morphological data from 18 groups, we show that male and female owl monkeys experience intense intra-sexual competition and aggression from solitary floaters. Pair-mates are regularly replaced by intruding floaters (27 female and 23 male replacements in 149 group-years), with negative effects on the reproductive success of both partners. Individuals with only one partner during their life produced 25% more offspring per decade of tenure than those with two or more partners. The termination of the pair-bond is initiated by the floater, and sometimes has fatal consequences for the expelled adult. The existence of floaters and the sporadic, but intense aggression between them and residents suggest that it can be misleading to assume an equal OSR in socially monogamous species based solely on group composition. Instead, we suggest that sexual selection models must assume not equal, but flexible, context-specific, OSR in monogamous species.

Polygynous animals are often highly dimorphic, and show large sex-differences in the degree of intra-sexual competition
and aggression, which is associated with biased operational sex ratios (OSR). For socially monogamous, sexually
monomorphic species, this relationship is less clear. Among mammals, pair-living has sometimes been assumed to imply
equal OSR and low frequency, low intensity intra-sexual competition; even when high rates of intra-sexual competition and
selection, in both sexes, have been theoretically predicted and described for various taxa. Owl monkeys are one of a few
socially monogamous primates. Using long-term demographic and morphological data from 18 groups, we show that male
and female owl monkeys experience intense intra-sexual competition and aggression from solitary floaters. Pair-mates are
regularly replaced by intruding floaters (27 female and 23 male replacements in 149 group-years), with negative effects on
the reproductive success of both partners. Individuals with only one partner during their life produced 25% more offspring
per decade of tenure than those with two or more partners. The termination of the pair-bond is initiated by the floater, and
sometimes has fatal consequences for the expelled adult. The existence of floaters and the sporadic, but intense aggression
between them and residents suggest that it can be misleading to assume an equal OSR in socially monogamous species
based solely on group composition. Instead, we suggest that sexual selection models must assume not equal, but flexible,
context-specific, OSR in monogamous species.

KeywordsAotus azarae; Intrasexual competition; Operational sex ratio; Monogamy
Year2013
JournalPLos ONE
ISSN1932-6203
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053724
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/293671
hdl:10545/293671
Publication dates2013
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Deposited10 Jun 2013, 11:25
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ContributorsUniversity of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology and Centro de Ecologia Aplicada del Litoral, CONICET
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