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Female Resistance to Invading Males Increases Infanticide in Langurs

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posted on 2011-04-22, 02:02 authored by Baoping Ren, Dayong Li, Xinmin He, Junhua Qiu, Ming Li

Background

Infanticide by adult male occurs in many mammalian species under natural conditions, and it is often assumed to be a goal-directed action and explained predominately by sexual selection. Motivation of this behavior in mammals is limitedly involved.

Methodology and Principal Findings

We used long-term reproductive records and direct observation in captivity and in the field of two snub-nosed langur species on the basis of individual identification to investigate how infanticide happened and to be avoided in nonhuman primates. Our observations suggested that infanticide by invading males might be more accidental than goal-directed. The invading male seemed to monopolize all the females including lactating mothers during takeovers. Multiparous mothers who accepted the invading male shortly after takeovers avoided infanticide in most cases. Our results conjectured primiparous mothers would decrease infanticidal possibility if they sexually accepted the invading male during or immediately after takeovers. In the studied langur species, voluntary abortion or mating with the invading male was evidently adopted by females to limit or avoid infanticide by takeover males.

Conclusions and Significance

The objective of the invading male was to monopolize all adult females after his takeover. It appeared that the mother's resistance to accepting the new male as a mating partner was the primary incentive for infanticide. Motivation analysis might be helpful to further understand why infanticide occurs in primate species.

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