5 years ago

Costs of mate-guarding in wild male long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis): Physiological stress and aggression

Mate-guarding is an important determinant of male reproductive success in a number of species. However, it is known to potentially incur costs. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of mate-guarding on male physiological stress and aggression in long-tailed macaques, a species in which males mate-guard females to a lesser extent than predicted by the Priority of Access model (PoA). The study was carried out during two mating periods on three groups of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia by combining behavioral observations with non-invasive measurements of fecal glucocorticoid (fGC) levels. Mate-guarding was associated with a general rise in male stress hormone levels but, from a certain threshold of mate-guarding onwards, increased vigilance time was associated with a decrease in stress hormone output. Mate-guarding also increased male-male aggression rate and male vigilance time. Overall, alpha males were more physiologically stressed than other males independently of mating competition. Increased glucocorticoid levels during mate-guarding are most likely adaptive since it may help males to mobilize extra-energy required for mate-guarding and ultimately maintain a balanced energetic status. However, repeated exposure to high levels of stress over an extended period is potentially deleterious to the immune system and thus may carry costs. This potential physiological cost together with the cost of increased aggression mate-guarding male face may limit the male’s ability to mate-guard females, explaining the deviance from the PoA model observed in long-tailed macaques. Comparing our results to previous findings we discuss how ecological factors, reproductive seasonality and rank achievement may modulate the extent to which costs of mate-guarding limit male monopolization abilities.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0018506X14001895

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