Breaking the succession rule: the costs and benefits of an alpha-status take-over by an immigrant rhesus macaque on Cayo Santiago

Breaking the succession rule: the costs and benefits of an alpha-status take-over by an immigrant... Explaining intraspecific variation in reproductive tactics hinges on measuring associated costs and benefits. Yet, this is difficult if alternative (purportedly less optimal) tactics remain unobserved. We describe a rare alpha-position take-over by an immigrant male rhesus macaque in a population where males typically gain rank via succession. Unusually, male aggressiveness after the take-over correlated with rank and mating success. The new alpha achieved the highest mating and reproductive success. Nevertheless, he sired only 4 infants due to high extra-group paternity (59.3%). The costs of his immigration tactic were high: after the mating season ended, unable to deter coalitionary attacks by resident males, he was overthrown. The following year he had the highest relative annual weight loss and levels of immune activation among males in the group. Succession-based rank-acquisition in large, provisioned groups of macaques thus appears to be actively maintained by resident males, who impose high costs on challengers. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Behaviour Brill

Breaking the succession rule: the costs and benefits of an alpha-status take-over by an immigrant rhesus macaque on Cayo Santiago

Breaking the succession rule: the costs and benefits of an alpha-status take-over by an immigrant rhesus macaque on Cayo Santiago


1. Introduction Plasticity in the use of alternative reproductive tactics in animals, particularly among males, is well known and is thought to reflect different allocation decisions in response to the costs and benefits of pursuing a given tactic (Taborsky et al., 2008; Taborsky & Brockmann, 2010). A key element of male reproductive tactics in species in which male dominance hierarchies determine sexual access to mates is fighting for and maintaining high social status (Wilson, 1975). The costs of agonistic competition, however, can be significant (Georgiev et al., 2013; Emery Thompson & Georgiev, 2014). The particular reproductive tactics an individual employs will thus depend on his and his competitors’ condition, motivation and fighting abilities (Setchell, 2008; Wolff, 2008). Males who can afford the costs of engaging in direct contest and succeed in obtaining high rank are often larger, heavier and/or have more developed armaments than their competitors (Chichinadze et al., 2014). Males who cannot meet the costs of direct combat, and thus have low chances of achieving top rank, may employ alternative tactics which are less dependent on fighting ability and can secure limited reproductive success at a fraction of the cost (Coltman et al., 2002). Still, in most species, the reproductive benefits of high rank are sufficiently large to outweigh the potential costs and thus incite intense aggressive intra-sexual competition among males. This leads to a pattern where the highest-ranking males are typically prime-aged and thus of superior fighting ability (Alberts et al., 2003; Setchell et al., 2006; Bissonnette et al., 2009; Borries et al., 2015; Marty et al., 2015). Factors such as age (e.g., meerkats, Suricata suricatta : Spong et al., 2008) and the ability to recruit allies in agonistic conflict (Assamese macaques, Macaca assamensis : Schülke et al., 2010; chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes : Gilby et al., 2013; crested macaques, M. nigra :...
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 2016 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Subject
Regular articles
ISSN
0005-7959
eISSN
1568-539X
D.O.I.
10.1163/1568539X-00003344
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Explaining intraspecific variation in reproductive tactics hinges on measuring associated costs and benefits. Yet, this is difficult if alternative (purportedly less optimal) tactics remain unobserved. We describe a rare alpha-position take-over by an immigrant male rhesus macaque in a population where males typically gain rank via succession. Unusually, male aggressiveness after the take-over correlated with rank and mating success. The new alpha achieved the highest mating and reproductive success. Nevertheless, he sired only 4 infants due to high extra-group paternity (59.3%). The costs of his immigration tactic were high: after the mating season ended, unable to deter coalitionary attacks by resident males, he was overthrown. The following year he had the highest relative annual weight loss and levels of immune activation among males in the group. Succession-based rank-acquisition in large, provisioned groups of macaques thus appears to be actively maintained by resident males, who impose high costs on challengers.

Journal

BehaviourBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2016

Keywords: alpha take-over; reproductive tactics; immigration; weight loss; dominance order; mating systems; Elo-ratings; neopterin

References

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