Primate mating system part 2: Polygynous

  • Polygyny is defined as a male’s tendency to mate with two or more females (Wilson, 1975; Dixson, 1998).
  • In this mating system the males will mate with all females in his group while females will primarily with this male (Dixson, 1998).
  • Dixson (1998) argues that although several groups of multimale multifemale primates groups are referred to as polygynous they should not be consider to be this since females will mate with several males during her ovarian cycle.
  • A secondary definition could be defined as the defense of females by a single male
  • Short (1979) and Harcourt et al. (1981a) use polygyny to in their studies of sexual selection
    • They notes that polygynous specie tends to have smaller testes sizes due to little sperm competition occurring.
    • An example of this can be seen in Gorillas.
  • Generally, polygyny is result from structures of one male units. One male units involve one male monopolizing a group of females. An example of this is Gorillas. Gorillas have groups of one silverback and five to six females (Dixson, 1998). Due to this group structure there are groups of extra males that occur do to the monopolization of females. This can lead to males attaching himself to a group in order to take over the group from the current male. This leads to different tenure rates of males (Dixson, 1998).
  • Species with Polygyny
    • Black and white colobus (Crockett and Eisenberg, 1987)
    • Mau-Forest-guereza-C-g-matschiei-portrait.jpg
    • Nilgiri langur (Poirier, 1969)
    • Capped-langur-sitting-in-tree.jpg
    • Purple faced langurs (Rudran, 1973)
    • Unknown.jpeg
    • Silvery lutung (Wolf and Fleagle, 1977)
    • Unknown-1.jpeg
    • Gray langur (Sugiyama, 1967)
    • Kashmir-gray-langur-sitting.jpg
    • Chinese gold snub monkeys (Zhang et al. 2006)
    • Juvenile-golden-snub-nosed-monkey-on-branch.jpg
    • Guenons (Struhsaker and Leland, 1979; Struhsaker and Leland, 1988; Wahome et al. 1993)
    • Moustached-guenon.jpg
    • Patas monkeys (Hall, 1965)
    • Unknown-3.jpeg
    • Gelada (Dunbar, 1984)
    • Female-gelada-grooming-male.jpg
    • Hamadryas baboons (Sigg et al. 1982)
    • Male-hamadryas-baboon-in-threat-display.jpg
    • Gorillas (Schaller 1963; Harcourt and Stewart, 2007)
    • Unknown.jpeg
    • Alouatta seniculus (Crockett and Eisenberg, 1987)
    • Colombian-red-howler-monkey-resting-on-branch.jpg

Work Cited

Dixson, A. (1998). Primate Sexuality : Comparative Studies of the Prosimians, Monkeys, Apes, and Human Beings. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Wilson, E. (1975). Sociobiology : The New Synthesis. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.


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