Effect of Dominance, Reproductive State, and Group Size on Body Mass in Macaca radiata

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Body mass can impact reproductive performance in males and females. In nonhuman primates the relationship is often mediated by dominance. We measured body mass monthly in a provisioned group of bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata) living at a Hindu temple. We also measured body mass on 3 occasions in a wild population of bonnet macaques. In the temple group, females that reproduced lost body mass, while females that did not reproduce gained body mass. Mass loss among females occurred primarily while they were nursing. Adult males from the temple group lost mass during the mating season and gained it during the non-mating season. Subadult males experienced less seasonal variation in body mass. Body mass and changes in mass were not related to dominance rank in either the temple or the forest group. Furthermore, maternal dominance rank did not affect infant mass. Females from the smallest forest group weighed significantly less than females from the two larger forest groups, which suggests intergroup competition in the population. Body mass was not related to dominance rank in a straightforward manner but may indirectly affect reproductive performance. The pattern of body mass change suggests that the period of lactation is critical for females and endurance rivalry is an important form of competition among males.

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