Student Prize Award Abstract
2003 Oral Paper Award
MALE MATE CHOICE IN RINGTAILED LEMURS (LEMUR CATTA): THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MALE MATING EFFORT AND FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE POTENTIAL
J. A. Parga University of Texas at Austin, Department of Anthropology, Austin, TX, 78712-1086, USA
Although females are generally considered the more selective sex, males may derive reproductive benefits from exercising mate choice if time, energy, or sperm are limiting. In this study, male mating effort was used as a proxy for male mate choice in ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) to test for variability in mating effort expended in male intra-sexual competition for different estrus females. Data reported here were collected on one free-ranging L. catta troop during two consecutive breeding seasons on St. Catherines Island, USA. Male mating effort was calculated as the rate of male-male agonism during each female’s estrus period. Results show that per study year, male mating effort differed significantly among troop females (c2 = 21.3, df = 3, p < 0.0001; c2 = 68.6, df = 3, p < 0.0001), and was largely due to differences among females with respect to number of mates. Mating effort was corrected to reflect effort per mating male, and was weighted according to the intensity of different agonistic behaviors. Mating effort did not correlate significantly with female dominance rank. Instead, males expended the greatest mating effort for females belonging to the prime reproductive age class (7-9 years) for this study site, and one older female (aged 12 years) with high reproductive success. Female reproductive potential appears to be an important variable determining male mating effort in this species.