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Keywords:

  • hybridity;
  • hierarchical rank;
  • reproductive success;
  • captive colony management

Abstract

The California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) houses more than 1,000 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) of mixed Chinese–Indian ancestry. Most of these animals are kept in outdoor field cages, the colony's long term breeding resource. Since 2001, hybrids comprised between 4 and 49% of the field cage populations, but in most cases have represented a maximum of 10% of those populations. The increasing prevalence of hybrids is partly due to management efforts to distribute genetic diversity effectively and minimize genetic subdivisions. However, other factors may also contribute to the spread of hybrids within the colony, most notably variance in socio-sexual behaviors and physical attributes. It is known that hybrids of some species exhibit heterosis, such as early maturation, that can enhance reproductive success, and anecdotal observations of mixed groups of hybrid, Indian and Chinese animals at the CNPRC suggest that hybrids are more sexually active. To determine whether hybrids experienced a reproductive advantage, a study was conducted using birth records of 5,611 offspring born in the CNPRC colony between 2003 and 2009. We found that while the degree of Chinese ancestry (DCA) appeared to influence the maturational schedule of both males and females (maturation was inversely related to proportion of Chinese ancestry), DCA had no independent effect on either male or female RS or rank. Therefore, we have found no evidence that a hybrid phenotype confers an absolute reproductive advantage in our colony. Am. J. Primatol. 73:671–678, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.