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Primates. 2011 Oct;52(4):373-83. doi: 10.1007/s10329-011-0258-2. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Copulation patterns in captive hamadryas baboons: a quantitative analysis.

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Cognitive Ethology Laboratory, German Primate Center, Kellnerweg 4, 37077, Göttingen, Germany.


For primates, as for many other vertebrates, copulation which results in ejaculation is a prerequisite for reproduction. The probability of ejaculation is affected by various physiological and social factors, for example reproductive state of male and female and operational sex-ratio. In this paper, we present quantitative and qualitative data on patterns of sexual behaviour in a captive group of hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas), a species with a polygynous-monandric mating system. We observed more than 700 copulations and analysed factors that can affect the probability of ejaculation. Multilevel logistic regression analysis and Akaike's information criterion (AIC) model selection procedures revealed that the probability of successful copulation increased as the size of female sexual swellings increased, indicating increased probability of ovulation, and as the number of females per one-male unit (OMU) decreased. In contrast, occurrence of female copulation calls, sex of the copulation initiator, and previous male aggression toward females did not affect the probability of ejaculation. Synchrony of oestrus cycles also had no effect (most likely because the sample size was too small). We also observed 29 extra-group copulations by two non-adult males. Our results indicate that male hamadryas baboons copulated more successfully around the time of ovulation and that males in large OMUs with many females may be confronted by time or energy-allocation problems.

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