Relation between the dominance rank of female rhesus monkeys and their access to males

Authors

  • Doris Zumpe,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, and The Georgia Mental Health institute, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Dr. Richard P. Michael

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, and The Georgia Mental Health institute, Atlanta, Georgia
    • Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, P.O. Box AF, Atlanta, GA 30322
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Abstract

Systematic observations were made on 12 measures of the sexual, aggressive, and social interactions of 24 male–female pairs of rhesus monkeys in six social groups, each consisting of one male and four ovariectomized females tested in a large room. Each female in a group was treated in turn first with estradiol alone and then with estradiol and progesterone in combination. When hormone-treated, the female was also observed during pair tests with the male in the same large observation room (four males, eight females, 240 group tests, 240 pair tests). The dominance ranks of females during group tests were determined post hoc by means of the dominance index [Zumpe & Michael, American Journal of Primatology 10:291–300, 1986]. In all six groups, the most dominant female virtually monopolized the male, and the subordinate females' interactions with the male, assessed during pair tests, were almost completely suppressed during group tests. This “dominant female effect” was a robust phenomenon that depended solely on female dominance rank. It was independent of the identity and hormonal status of females and of the social preferences of males as expressed in pair tests. These findings demonstrate the existence of female mate competition in an Old World primate.

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