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Snyder-Mackler N.,University of Pennsylvania | Alberts S.C.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Institute of Primate Research | Bergman T.J.,University of Michigan
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

By living in social groups with potential competitors, animals forgo monopolizing access to resources. Consequently, debate continues over how selection might favour sociality among competitors. For example, several models exist to account for the evolution of shared reproduction in groups. The 'concession model' hypothesizes that dominant reproducers benefit from the presence of subordinates, and hence tolerate some reproduction by subordinates. This mutual benefit to both dominants and subordinates may provide a foundation for the formation of social groups in which multiple members reproduce-a necessary step in the evolution of cooperation. To date, however, the concession model has received virtually no support in vertebrates. Instead, the vast majority of vertebrate data support 'limited control models', which posit that dominant reproducers are simply unable to prevent subordinates from reproducing. Here we present the most comprehensive evidence to date in support of the concession model in a vertebrate. We examined natural variation in the number of adult males in gelada (Theropithecus gelada) reproductive units to assess the extent of reproductive skew in multi-male units. Dominant ('leader') males in units that also had subordinate ('follower') males had a 30 per cent longer tenure than leaders in units that did not have followers, mainly because followers actively defended the group against potential immigrants. Follower males also obtained a small amount of reproduction in the unit, which may have functioned as a concession in return for defending the unit. These results suggest that dominants and subordinates may engage in mutually beneficial reproductive transactions, thus favouring male-male tolerance and cooperation. © 2012 The Royal Society. Source

Alberts S.C.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Institute of Primate Research | Fitzpatrick C.L.,Duke University
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2012

The exaggerated sexual swellings exhibited by females of some primate species have been of interest to evolutionary biologists since the time of Darwin. We summarize existing hypotheses for their function and evolution and categorize these hypotheses within the context of 3 types of variation in sexual swelling size: 1) variation within a single sexual cycle, 2) variation between the sexual cycles of a single female, and 3) differences between females. We then propose the Paternal Care Hypothesis for the function of sexual swellings, which posits that exaggerated sexual swellings function to elicit the right quantity and quality of male care for a female's infant. As others have noted, swellings may allow females to engender paternity confusion, or they may allow females to confer relative paternal certainty on one male. Key to our hypothesis is that both of these scenarios create an incentive for one or more males to provide care. This hypothesis builds on previous hypotheses but differs from them by highlighting the elicitation of paternal care as a key function of swellings. Our hypothesis predicts that true paternal care (in which males accurately differentiate and provide assistance to their own offspring) will be most common in species in which exaggerated swellings accurately signal the probability of conception, and males can monopolize females during the window of highest conception probability. Our hypothesis also predicts that females will experience selection to behave in ways that either augment paternity confusion or enhance paternal certainty depending on their social and demographic contexts. © 2012 The Author. Source

Babbitt C.C.,Duke University | Tung J.,Duke University | Wray G.A.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Institute of Primate Research
Genome Biology and Evolution | Year: 2012

Changes in gene expression during development play an important role in shaping morphological and behavioral differences, including between humans and nonhuman primates. Although many of the most striking developmental changes occur during early development, reproductive maturation represents another critical window in primate life history. However, this process is difficult to study at the molecular level in natural primate populations. Here, we took advantage of ovarian samples made available through an unusual episode of human-wildlife conflict to identify genes that are important in this process. Specifically, we used RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) to compare genome-wide gene expression patterns in the ovarian tissue of juvenile and adult female baboons from Amboseli National Park, Kenya. We combined this information with prior evidence of selection occurring on two primate lineages (human and chimpanzee). We found that in cases in which genes were both differentially expressed over the course of ovarian maturation and also linked to lineage-specific selection this selective signature was much more likely to occur in regulatory regions than in coding regions. These results suggest that adaptive change in the development of the primate ovary may be largely driven at the mechanistic level by selection on gene regulation, potentially in relationship to the physiology or timing of female reproductive maturation. © The Author(s) 2011. Source

Snyder-Mackler N.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Duke University | Alberts S.C.,Institute of Primate Research | Bergman T.J.,University of Michigan
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2014

Multilevel societies with fission-fusion dynamics - arguably the most complex animal societies - are defined by two or more nested levels of organization. The core of these societies are modular social units that regularly fission and fuse with one another. Despite convergent evolution in disparate taxa, we know strikingly little about how such societies form and how fitness benefits operate. Understanding the kinship structure of complex societies could inform us about the origins of the social structure as well as about the potential for individuals in these societies to accrue indirect fitness benefits. Here, we combined genetic and behavioural data on geladas (Theropithecus gelada), an Old World Monkey, to complete the most comprehensive socio-genetic analysis of a multilevel society to date. In geladas, individuals in the core social 'units', associate at different frequencies to form 'teams', 'bands' and, the largest aggregations, 'communities'. Units were composed of closely related females, and females remained with their close kin during permanent fissions of units. Interestingly, female-female relatedness also significantly predicted between-unit, between-team and between-band association patterns, while male-male relatedness did not. Thus, it is likely that the socio-genetic structure of gelada society results from females maintaining associations with their female relatives during successive unit fissions - possibly in an attempt to balance the direct and indirect fitness benefits of group living. Overall, the persistence of associations among related females across generations appears to drive the formation of higher levels of gelada society, suggesting that females seek kin for inclusive fitness benefits at multiple levels of gelada society. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Foerster S.,Columbia University | Foerster S.,Institute of Primate Research | Monfort S.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Hormones and Behavior | Year: 2010

Because of their mediating role in the stress response and potential effects on fitness, glucocorticoid (GC) hormones are increasingly used to assess the physiological costs of environmental and behavioral variation among wild vertebrates. Identifying the proximate causes of GC variation, however, is complicated by simultaneous exposure to multiple potentially stressful stimuli. Here, we use data from a partially provisioned social group of Sykes' monkeys to evaluate the effects of potential psychological and metabolic stressors on temporal and individual variation in fecal GC (fGC) excretion among 11 adult females. Despite high rates of agonism over provisioned foods fGCs declined during periods of high provisioning frequency when fruit availability was dominated by neem (Azadirachta indica), an item requiring great feeding effort. Provisioned foods did not prevent fGC increases when availability of the most preferred main fruit item, tamarind (Tamarindus indica), declined drastically. Although rank-related differences in access to provisioned foods and rates of agonism did not lead to an overall effect of rank on fGCs, low-ranking females excreted more fGCs than high-ranking females during a period of high provisioning intensity and low fruit availability. The emergence of this rank effect was associated with elevated feeding effort in all females, a greater access to provisioned items by high-ranking females, and a higher proportion of time spent moving in low-ranking females. Our findings suggest that metabolic stressors were the primary determinants of both temporal and individual variation in fGCs, indicating potential fitness benefits for high-ranking females when food availability is limited. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Source

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