Wednesday, February 1, 2012
This paper that just came out in the March 2012 issue of American Journal of Primatology: Sneaky Monkeys: An Audience Effect of Male Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) on Sexual Behavior. This study was conducted on captive group-living macaques in the Netherlands. The "audience effect" is essentially when female sexual behavior is influenced by the presence of bystander males (usually the alpha male). The findings indicated that females were more likely to copulate with subordinate males when the alpha male was absent, and this was also true for when nonalpha male bystanders were absent. The reason for this may be that interventions initiated by males present during copulation usually result in the female receiving the brunt of the punishment. Therefore, it's advantageous for females to solicit copulations without an audience. The general consequences of this are that a male monopolizing a female in estrus may be undermined by the female soliciting frequent matings with subordinate males in his absence. Additionally, he may experience less copulations with receptive females if nonalpha male bystanders are present.