• mating system;
  • sexual swellings;
  • male mating strategies;
  • group composition;
  • extrapair copulations;
  • polyspecific associations


In the olive colobus (Procolobus verus), many groups have multiple males and the males have large testes. This indicates that even though this species lives in small groups, single males do not monopolize the groups. We investigated the strategies employed by males to secure their mating success, and sought to determine whether the lack of male monopolization was a result of female mating strategies, as indicated by the exaggerated sexual swellings of the females. Four study groups were monitored for demographic changes, and group composition was determined in six additional groups in Taï National Park, Ivory Coast, between 1994 and 1999. Social behavior was recorded by scan and focal sampling in the study groups. The almost permanent association of olive colobus with Diana monkeys (Cercopithecus diana) in effect provided males a resource at which they could expect females to visit and sometimes even permanently join them, as well as protection from predators. As alternative strategies for obtaining females, one male took over the group of another male and one male immigrated into a bisexual group. Within bi-male groups, dominant males mated most frequently and males defended their groups during intergroup interactions. Lone females that visited groups or solitary males had a swelling more often than expected, and generally mated with the males they visited. Females had long receptive periods, several consecutive receptive cycles, and some overlap in receptive periods within groups. Females mated with extragroup males, and during infertile periods. We concluded that the males used the Diana monkeys for safety reasons and to obtain mating partners, and that female reproductive biology and behavior prevented the monopolization of groups of females by single males. Our data were inconclusive as regards the benefits to females of avoiding monopolization by males. Am. J. Primatol. 62:261–273, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.