Male Post-Ejaculatory Mounting in the Ring-Tailed Lemur (Lemur catta): A Behavior Solicited by Females?

Authors


Joyce A. Parga, Department of Social Sciences, University of Toronto at Scarborough, Toronto, ON M1C 1A4, Canada.
E-mail: j.parga@utoronto.ca

Abstract

Male mate guarding can take many forms but often involves aggression toward male conspecifics and continued proximity with a female. This study describes a previously undocumented behavior in a promiscuous primate, the ring-tailed lemur: post-ejaculatory (PE) mounting. PE mounting was documented across eight mating seasons in a ring-tailed lemur colony on St. Catherines Island (SCI), USA. During PE mounting, a male remounts a female following ejaculation and clasps her midsection as if to mate again, but copulation does not occur; males showing this behavior typically lack erections, and their mounts show an absence of penile intromission and rhythmic thrusting. Male PE mounting was more common among males mating earlier in the queue, and when PE mounting occurred, it accompanied mate guarding. Four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses to explain PE mounting were evaluated as follows: (1) gaining additional copulations, (2) prevention of re-mating, (3) lengthening sperm residence time, and (4) re-mounting as a function of female proceptivity. Male PE mounting did not aid males in gaining additional copulations nor did PE mounting prevent females from mating with new males. Equivocal support was found for Hypothesis 3: although there was much overlap in copulatory plug residence times for males who did and did not show PE mounting, one-third of males who practiced PE mounting had plug residence times of 2 h or more, much longer than that of males who did not show PE mounting. PE mounting may therefore be related to increased plug residence time, which may provide an advantage to males in sperm competition. Strong evidence was found in support of Hypothesis 4: males overwhelmingly performed PE mounts in response to continued female sexual presentations, suggesting that females can solicit this male behavior. Females consequently exercise an even greater degree of control over males than was previously realized in this ‘female dominant’ primate.

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