Abstract # 1952 Event # 135:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 03:00 PM-03:15 PM: Session 14 (Regency East #2)

Sexual Coercion in a Female Dominant Primate

J. A. Parga and A. R. Henry
University of Texas at Austin, Department of Anthropology, Austin, TX 78712, USA
     Sexual coercion is the use (or threat) of force by males which increases their mating success at the female’s cost (Smuts and Smuts, 1993). Though ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are female dominant, we documented sexual coercion among L. catta on St. Catherines Island (USA) during October-November 2002 using ‘all-occurrences’ sampling for agonism and mating. During the coercive event, a male forcefully mounted a yearling estrus female repeatedly despite being aggressively rejected. In doing so, he achieved penile intromission at least once. Because the female acquiesced with many of the male’s mounts and even presented to him in some cases, we do not consider this forced copulation. All group males (n = 4) mated with this female; the number of presents to each male (chi-square = 20.53, df = 3, p < 0.0001) and male success ratios (percent mount attempts met with acquiescence) differed among males (chi-square = 32.75, df = 3, p < 0.0001). Though the coercive male was the second-to-least sexually preferred, he attained the most mounts and showed the longest cumulative mount duration. To our knowledge, this is the first report of sexual coercion in L. catta, and it was likely a result of early female sexual maturation due to food provisioning. It appears that this cycling year-old female had not yet attained dominance over males, so was subject to sexual coercion.