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Male bimaturism and reproductive success in Sumatran orang-utans

Utami, S. S., Goossens, Benoit ORCID:, Bruford, Michael ORCID:, De Ruiter, J. R. and van Hooff, Jan A. R. A. M. 2002. Male bimaturism and reproductive success in Sumatran orang-utans. Behavioral Ecology 13 (5) , pp. 643-652. 10.1093/beheco/13.5.643

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Although orang-utans live solitary lives most of the time, they have a complex social structure and are characterized by extreme sexual dimorphism. However, whereas some adult male orang-utans develop full secondary sexual characteristics, such as cheek flanges, others may stay in an “ arrested” unflanged condition for up to 20 years after reaching sexual maturity. The result is a marked bimaturism among adult males. Flanged males allow females to overlap with their home range and often tolerate the presence of unflanged males. However, wherever possible flanged males actively prevent unflanged males from copulating with females. Two competing hypotheses, previously untested, have been advanced to explain male reproductive behavior and bimaturism in orang-utans: (1) the “ range-guardian” hypothesis, which asserts that the flanged males are postreproductive and defend a range in which they tolerate sexually active, unflanged male relatives; and (2) the “female choice” hypothesis, which asserts that flanged males tolerate unflanged males in their range because they rely on female preference to favor flanged males. We investigated these hypotheses and a third hypothesis that the two male morphs represent co-existing alternative male reproductive strategies (“sitting, calling, and waiting” for flanged males versus “ going, searching, and finding” for unflanged males). Fecal samples were collected from a well-studied population in Indonesia, and eight human microsatellites were analyzed for 30 individuals that have been behaviorally monitored for up to 27 years. By carrying out paternity analysis on 11 offspring born over 15 years, we found that unflanged males fathered about half (6) of the offspring. Relatedness between successful unflanged males and resident dominant males was significantly lower than 0.5, and for some unflanged/flanged male pairs, relatedness values were negative, indicating that unflanged males are not offspring of the flanged males.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: Oxford Journals
ISSN: 1045-2249
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 08:58

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