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1.  Variance in male lifetime reproductive success and estimation of the degree of polygyny in a primate 
Behavioral Ecology  2014;25(4):878-889.
The degree of polygyny is predicted to influence the strength of direct male–male competition, leading to a high variance in male lifetime reproductive success and to reproduction limited to the prime period of adulthood. Here, we explore the variance in male lifetime reproductive success and reproductive time in an anthropoid primate forming multimale–multifemale groups. Males of this species form dominance hierarchies, which are expected to skew reproduction toward few high-ranking males. At the same time, however, females mate with multiple males (polygynandry), which should limit the degree of polygyny. Using 20 years of genetic and demographic data, we calculated lifetime reproductive success for the free-ranging rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) population of Cayo Santiago for subjects that died naturally or reached senescence. Our results show that 1) male lifetime reproductive success was significantly skewed (range: 0–47 offspring; males reproducing below average: 62.8%; nonbreeders: 17.4%), 2) variance in male lifetime reproductive success was 5 times larger than in females, and 3) male lifetime reproductive success was more influenced by variation in fecundity (60%) than longevity (25%), suggesting that some direct male–male competition takes place. However, the opportunity for selection (i.e., standardized variance in male lifetime reproductive success) is low compared with that in other large mammal species characterized by a high degree of polygyny. Moreover, male reproductive life extended much beyond the prime period, showing that physical strength was not required to acquire mates. We conclude that rhesus macaques exhibit a moderate degree of polygyny and, therefore, low levels of direct male–male competition for fertile females, despite the fact that males form linear dominance hierarchies.
Lay summary
Male rhesus macaques face moderate strength of direct competition for fertile mates, creating opportunity for indirect forms of competition. Using 20 years of genetic and demographic data, we show that variance in lifetime reproductive success is more pronounced in males than in females. Yet, most males reproduce in their lifetime, that surviving as long as possible increases males’ success, and that males reach high fecundity before the full development of secondary sex characteristics.
PMCID: PMC4095946  PMID: 25024637
lifetime reproductive success; male–male competition; mammals; opportunity for selection; reproductive skew; reproductive timing; rhesus macaques.
2.  Color signal information content and the eye of the beholder: a case study in the rhesus macaque 
Behavioral Ecology  2010;21(4):739-746.
Animal coloration has provided many classical examples of both natural and sexual selection. Methods to study color signals range from human assessment to models of receiver vision, with objective measurements commonly involving spectrometry or digital photography. However, signal assessment by a receiver is not objective but linked to receiver perception. Here, we use standardized digital photographs of female rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) face and hindquarter regions, combined with estimates of the timing of the female fertile phase, to assess how color varies with respect to this timing. We compare objective color measures (camera sensor responses) with models of rhesus vision (retinal receptor stimulation and visual discriminability). Due to differences in spectral separation between camera sensors and rhesus receptors, camera measures overestimated color variation and underestimated luminance variation compared with rhesus macaques. Consequently, objective digital camera measurements can produce statistically significant relationships that are probably undetectable to rhesus macaques, and hence biologically irrelevant, while missing variation in the measure that may be relevant. Discrimination modeling provided results that were most meaningful (as they were directly related to receiver perception) and were easiest to relate to underlying physiology. Further, this gave new insight into the function of such signals, revealing perceptually salient signal luminance changes outside of the fertile phase that could potentially enhance paternity confusion. Our study demonstrates how, even for species with similar visual systems to humans, models of vision may provide more accurate and meaningful information on the form and function of visual signals than objective color measures do.
PMCID: PMC2892627  PMID: 22475874
color signaling; communication; receiver perception; visual discrimination threshold modeling

Results 1-2 (2)