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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2006 Dec;131(4):498-510.

Life history in male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx): physical development, dominance rank, and group association.

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Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK.


We assess life history from birth to death in male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) living in a semifree-ranging colony in Gabon, using data collected for 82 males that attained at least the age of puberty, including 33 that reached adulthood and 25 that died, yielding data for their entire lifespan. We describe patterns of mortality and injuries, dominance rank, group association, growth and stature, and secondary sexual character expression across the male lifespan. We examine relationships among these variables and investigate potential influences on male life history, including differences in the social environment (maternal rank and group demography) and early development, with the aim of identifying characteristics of successful males. Sons of higher-ranking females were more likely to survive to adulthood than sons of low-ranking females. Adolescent males varied consistently in the rate at which they developed, and this variation was related to a male's own dominance rank. Males with fewer peers and sons of higher-ranking and heavier mothers also matured faster. However, maternal variables were not significantly related to dominance rank during adolescence, the age at which males attained adult dominance rank, or whether a male became alpha male. Among adult males, behavior and morphological development were related to a male's own dominance rank, and sons of high-ranking females were larger than sons of low-ranking females. Alpha males were always the most social, and the most brightly colored males, but were not necessarily the largest males present. Finally, alpha male tenure was related to group demography, with larger numbers of rival adult males and maturing adolescent males reducing the time a male spent as alpha male. Tenure did not appear to be related to characteristics of the alpha male himself.

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