Influence of Female Copulation Calls on Male Sexual Behavior in Captive Macaca fascicularis


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Abstract

We investigated the function of copulation calls—vocalizations by females during mating—in captive groups of long-tailed macaques. We tested predictions of the contest-competition, sperm competition, synchronized orgasms, mate again, alpha-male notification and graded-signal hypotheses. We observed 371 copulations of 36 females wherein the presence or absence of a copulation call was clear. Females call equally often with different males and shortly after ejaculation. Copulation calls occurred equally with copulations with and without ejaculation. Calls did not incite disruptions of the mating. Following calls females mated again, more often than expected, with their mating partner. Both pregnant and fertile females uttered copulation calls. Two females conceived and mated mainly with the alpha male then. We conclude that copulation calls do not incite male contest competition for sexual access to females and that it is unlikely that calls synchronize male and female orgasms. Several hypotheses remain plausible, but not all predictions are borne out unequivocably. This alerts us to the possibility that the calls could have multiple beneficial effects; natural selection might strike a compromise among functions. Investigation of the mate again, sperm competition and alpha-male notification hypotheses, and of hypotheses not tested in our study concerning female breeding overlap and female-female agonism, is required.

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