Inbreeding Avoidance in Male Primates: A Response to Female Mate Choice?


  • (Invited Review)


Inbreeding often has negative fitness consequences for primates, which have led to the evolution of inbreeding avoidance strategies in a number of species. In polygynous primates, females may suffer a higher fitness cost from inbreeding than males and are thus expected to exhibit a lower tolerance for inbreeding. Nevertheless, it is apparent that inbreeding avoidance behaviours are common in both female and male polygynous primates. In this perspectives article, I review the evidence that female mate choice can lead to male inbreeding avoidance behaviours in polygynous primates. I conclude that male inbreeding avoidance may be strongly driven by female mate choice at both proximate and ultimate levels. To better understand the extent to which this pattern applies across the primate order, studies are needed on the separate effects of participating in inbred matings and producing inbred offspring on male and female lifetime reproductive success. It would also be useful to examine how inbreeding avoidance strategies vary across primate mating systems. Finally, measuring the covariance between female choice and male inbreeding avoidance behaviour, and between male inbreeding avoidance behaviour and male fitness, would help to clarify the role of female mate choice in the evolution of male inbreeding avoidance.