Sex differences in sexual partner acquisition, retention, and harassment during female homosexual consortships in Japanese macaques


  • Paul L. Vasey

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada
    • Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4, Canada
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Female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) in certain populations are unusual in that they exhibit male-typical patterns of mounting behavior and sexual-partner preference. The goal of this study was to determine whether female Japanese macaques, from one such population, employ male-typical behavioral tactics to disrupt existing homosexual consortships, as well as to acquire and retain same-sex sexual partners. “Harassment” of homosexual consortships occurred when a sexually motivated, third-party male or female interrupted a consorting female couple by displacing or aggressing them. Sexual harassment was a male-typical strategy for disrupting existing homosexual consortships, but was rarely performed by females. “Intrusions” occurred when a male or female competitor attempted to acquire exclusive access to a female engaged in a homosexual consortship by targeting that female as the focus of competition and her partner as his/her competitor. “Sexual coercion” occurred when one individual alternately sexually solicited and aggressed another individual as part of the same behavioral sequence during an intrusion. Males employed consortship intrusions and sexual coercion when they attempted to acquire female sexual partners that were already engaged in homosexual consortships, but females rarely did so. However, females did employ male-typical patterns of aggressive competition and sexual coercion to retain same-sex sexual partners when confronted with male competitors' attempts to usurp those partners. These results indicate that female sexual activity during homosexual consortships is not uniformly “masculine” in expression, but rather is a mixture of male- and female-typical behaviors. Am. J. Primatol. 64:397–409, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.