Birth sex ratios and social rank in rhesus monkey mothers

Abstract

The ability to control the sex of her offspring could be of survival value to a mother1,2, and prompts questions about mechanisms of sex determination. Trivers and Willard have suggested that mothers potentially able to invest much in offspring should bear those kinds of infant that repay high levels of maternal investment most effectively2. One hypothesis concerning matrilineal primate species states that a dominant mother would leave more descendants through a daughter rather than a son if that daughter inherited her high rank3–5. On the other hand, a low ranking mother of such a species would leave more descendants through a son, for he is likely to emigrate at puberty and not necessarily inherit his mother's low rank6. Unfortunately, long-term data on primate birth sex ratios are in short supply. Here we present data collected over 20 years on a captive colony of rhesus monkeys which support the above hypothesis. High ranking rhesus monkey mothers in our captive colony7 were more likely to give birth to daughters than sons, while the remaining mothers were more likely to bear sons than daughters. Finally, we suggest a mechanism for adjusting birth sex ratios in macaques.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Clutton-Brock, T. H. in Current Problems in Sociobiology (Cambridge University Press, in the press).

  2. 2

    Trivers, R. L. & Willard, D. E. Science 179, 90–92 (1973).

  3. 3

    Altmann, J. Baboon Mothers and Infants (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980).

  4. 4

    Silk, J. B., Clark-Wheatley, C. B., Rodman, P. S. & Samuels, A. Anim. Behav. 29, 1106–1120 (1981).

  5. 5

    Sade, D. S. in Social Communication Among Primates (ed. Altmann, S. A.) 99–114 (University of Chicago Press, 1967).

  6. 6

    Koford, C. B. Science 141, 336–337 (1963).

  7. 7

    Anderson, D. M. & Simpson, M. J. A. Lab. Anim. 13, 275–281 (1979).

  8. 8

    Siegel, S. Nonparametric Statistics (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1956).

  9. 9

    Kaplan, J. R. Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 49, 241–249 (1978).

  10. 10

    Chapais, B. & Schulman, S. J. theor. Biol. 82, 47–89 (1980).

  11. 11

    Lindburg, D. G. in Primate Behavior 2 (ed. Rosenblum, L. A.) 1–106 (Academic, New York, 1971).

  12. 12

    Packer, C. Anim. Behav. 27, 1–36 (1979).

  13. 13

    Drickamer, L. C. & Vessey, S. H. Primates 14, 359–368 (1973).

  14. 14

    Spencer-Booth, Y. Anim. Behav. 16, 541–557 (1968).

  15. 15

    Drickamer, L. C. Folia Primatol. 21, 61–80 (1974).

  16. 16

    Simpson, M. J. A., Simpson, A. E., Hooley, J. & Zunz, M. Nature 290, 49–51 (1981).

  17. 17

    Sackett, G. P., Holm, R. A., Davis, A. E. & Fahrenbruch, C. E. Symp. 5th Cong. int. Primal. Soc. (eds Kondo, S., Kawai, M., Ehara, E. & Kawamura, S.) 189–205 (Japan Science, Tokyo, 1975).

  18. 18

    Verme, L. J. & Ozoga, J. J. J. Wildl. Mgmt 45, 710–715 (1981).

  19. 19

    James, W. H. Lancet i, 1124–1128 (1980).

  20. 20

    James, W. H. Br. med. J. 281, 711–712 (1980).

  21. 21

    Hausfater, G. Contrib. Primatol. 7, 1–150 (1975).

  22. 22

    Richards, S. M. Anim. Behav. 22, 914–930 (1974).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Simpson, M., Simpson, A. Birth sex ratios and social rank in rhesus monkey mothers. Nature 300, 440–441 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1038/300440a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.