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Sexual interference in the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana): a test of the sexual competition hypothesis in a polygynous species

Authors

  • Xiao-Guang Qi,

    1. Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an, China
    2. Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan
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    • Xiao-Guang Qi and Bin Yang contributed equally to this work.

  • Bin Yang,

    1. Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an, China
    2. Institute of Zoology, Shaanxi Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
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    • Xiao-Guang Qi and Bin Yang contributed equally to this work.

  • Paul A. Garber,

    1. Anthropology Department, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
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  • Weihong Ji,

    1. Institute of Natural Resource, Massey University, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • Kunio Watanabe,

    1. Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan
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  • Bao-Guo Li

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an, China
    2. Institute of Zoology, Shaanxi Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
    • College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China
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Abstract

Sexual interference (SI), which is defined as any disturbance directed to a mating pair by other individuals, has been reported in several primate species. It is widely suggested that successful harassers experience improved mating success by increasing their access to reproductive partners as well as by reducing the mating success of rivals. Although theories of primate sexual conflict highlight male intra-sexual mating competition, females also are reported to actively disrupt copulations between mating partners. In this study, we investigated SI in a multilevel troop of Golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) inhabiting the Qinling Mountains, China. Behavioral observations of 11 one-male units (OMU) that comprised the multilevel troop were conducted from September 2007 to May 2008. During this period 17.1% of 652 documented intra-OMU sexual encounters were characterized either by mild or aggressive forms of harassment. Sexual harassment was typically performed by a single individual (91.9%), and in 75.7% of cases the harasser was an adult or sub-adult female. The frequency of female harassment was positively correlated with the number of adult and sub-adult females residing in an OMU, and resulted in a significant decrease in matings ending in ejaculation. We found that the amount of SI a female received was not a significant predictor of her reproductive success. However, females who conceived during the mating season directed higher levels of harassment at other females than females who did not conceive. We evaluate the strength of the sexual competition hypothesis and the hormonally modulated aggression hypothesis in explaining patterns of SI in female Golden snub-nosed monkeys. Am. J. Primatol. 73:366–377, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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