The impact of paternity on male–infant association in a primate with low paternity certainty

Authors

  • Doreen Langos,

    1. Junior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
    2. Institute of Biology, Faculty of Bioscience, Pharmacy and Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Lars Kulik,

    1. Junior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
    2. Institute of Biology, Faculty of Bioscience, Pharmacy and Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Roger Mundry,

    1. Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Anja Widdig

    Corresponding author
    1. Junior Research Group of Primate Kin Selection, Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
    2. Institute of Biology, Faculty of Bioscience, Pharmacy and Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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Abstract

In multimale groups where females mate promiscuously, male–infant associations have rarely been studied. However, recent studies have shown that males selectively support their offspring during agonistic conflicts with other juveniles and that father's presence accelerates offspring maturation. Furthermore, it was shown that males invest in unrelated infants to enhance future mating success with the infant's mother. Hence, infant care might provide fitness gain for males. Here, we investigate male–infant associations in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), a primate with low paternity certainty as females mate with multiple partners and males ensure paternity less efficiently through mate-guarding. We combined behavioural data with genetic paternity analyses of one cohort of the semi-free-ranging population of Cayo Santiago (Puerto Rico) and recorded affiliative and aggressive interactions between focal subjects and adult males from birth to sexual maturation (0–4 years) of focal subjects. Our results revealed that 9.6% of all interactions of focal subjects involved an adult male and 94% of all male–infant interactions were affiliative, indicating the rareness of male–infant aggression. Second and most interestingly, sires were more likely to affiliate with their offspring than nonsires with unrelated infants. This preference was independent of mother's proximity and emphasized during early infancy. Male–infant affiliation rose with infant age and was pronounced between adult males and male rather than female focal subjects. Overall, our results suggest that male–infant affiliation is also an important component in structuring primate societies and affiliation directed towards own offspring presumably represent low-cost paternal care.

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