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Atypically High Reproductive Skew in a Small Wild Chimpanzee Community in a Human-Dominated Landscape

In: Folia Primatologica
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Maureen S. McCarthynull
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Jack D. Lesternull
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Marie Cibotnull
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Linda Vigilantnull

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Matthew R. McLennannull
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Social rank is positively correlated with reproductive success in numerous species, albeit demographic factors often influence those patterns. In multimale primate species, reproductive skew tends to decrease with increasing numbers of males and sexually receptive females. Alpha male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) often sire a disproportionate, though somewhat variable, percentage of offspring compared to other males. In a small community of eastern chimpanzees inhabiting a human-dominated landscape in Bulindi, Uganda, we found extraordinarily high levels of alpha male reproductive success over a 5-year period (7/8 offspring = 88%), despite the presence of multiple subordinate males. The skew exceeds that reported in other studies of chimpanzees as well as closely related bonobos (Pan paniscus). Our findings underscore the role of demographic and social factors in male reproductive success and also suggest that conclusions about species differences may be premature. The interaction of small community size, dispersal limitations, and male reproductive strategies like those found here may decrease genetic diversity and increase the risk of concomitant inbreeding in chimpanzee communities under strong anthropogenic pressure.

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