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Keywords:

  • copulation;
  • age;
  • repeated cycles;
  • rhesus monkey

Abstract

Young, sexually mature female rhesus monkeys copulate on more days prior to conception than do older females, and this prolonged discrete mating period is associated with an earlier rise in serum estradiol prior to the first ovulation of the breeding season. The influence of repeated ovulatory cycles and the presence of a suckling infant on the copulatory patterns were examined in two separate analyses. Extending previous work, young, nulliparous females copulated on more days at the first ovulation of the breeding season than did older, multiparous females. However, the duration of the copulatory period at the second ovulation of the breeding season was similar and significantly shorter for both age groups. Furthermore, the presence of a suckling infant did not influence the duration of the mating periods in adult, multiparous females. The onset of copulatory behavior for all females was associated with serum estradiol concentrations of approximately 90 pg/ml, indicating that the age and cycle differences in the duration of the copulatory periods are due to the time course of serum estradiol prior to ovulation. A separate, longitudinal analysis of the duration of the mating period associated with the first ovulation of three successive breeding seasons indicated that females copulated on more days during their first ovulatory cycle of their first breeding season. These data indicate that the copulatory interval is longer for females during the first ovulation of the breeding season, and this pattern is accentuated in young, sexually mature animals.