Social and menstrual cycle phase influences on the behavior of group-housed Cebus apella

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Abstract

This study examined sexual and other social behavior in relation to menstrual cycle phase in four mixed-sex social groups of Cebus apella. Groups consisted of two adult males and either six or nine adult females. Menstrual cycles of high (rank 1–2) and low (rank 3–7) dominance-rank females from each group were monitored via vaginal swabs, and correlated with data collected from ongoing behavioral observations. Only cycles bounded by positive detection of menstrual blood were included in this analysis (n = 15 females, 182 cycles; mean ± s.d., cycle length = 20.8 ± 1.2 days). Rates of copulation and female solicitation of males varied significantly with cycle phase, with highest rates at midcycle. While total rates of solicitation and copulation did not vary with female dominance rank, copulation rates with the dominant male were significantly greater for high ranking females than for low ranking ones. Variance observed in affiliative and agonistic behaviors, including those with males, was attributable to female rank rather than cycle phase. Females and males were also observed attempting to interfere with copulations of lower ranking same-sex individuals. Although further study, particularly of wild populations, is needed, these results indicate that female-female reproductive competition should be included as a component of the capuchin breeding system. As in other primate species, both social and hormone-related factors influence the sexual behavior of Cebus apella. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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