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Cycle length flexibility: is the duration of sexual receptivity associated with changes in social pressures?

Darmis, Fragkiskos; Huchard, Élise; Cowlishaw, Guy; Carter, Alecia J; (2023) Cycle length flexibility: is the duration of sexual receptivity associated with changes in social pressures? Royal Society Open Science , 10 (11) , Article 231307. 10.1098/rsos.231307. Green open access

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Abstract

Research in social mammals has revealed the complexity of strategies females use in response to female-female reproductive competition and sexual conflict. One point at which competition and conflict manifests acutely is during sexual receptivity, indicated by swellings in some primates. Whether females can adjust their sexual receptivity from cycle to cycle to decrease reproductive competition and sexual conflict in response to social pressures has not been tested. As a first step, this study explores whether sexual receptivity duration is predicted by social pressures in wild female chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Given that female baboons face intense reproductive competition and sexual coercion, we predicted that: females could shorten the duration of their sexual receptive period to reduce female-female aggression and male coercion or increase it to access multiple or their preferred male(s). We quantified 157 ovulatory cycles from 46 wild females living in central Namibia recorded over 15 years. We found no support for our hypothesis; however, our analyses revealed a negative correlation between maximal-swelling duration and group size, a proxy of within-group competition. This study provides further evidence that swelling is costly as well as a testable framework for future investigations of 'cycle length manipulation'.

Type: Article
Title: Cycle length flexibility: is the duration of sexual receptivity associated with changes in social pressures?
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.231307
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.231307
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: cycle length manipulation, female–female competition, sexual coercion, sexual selection, social environment
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10183320
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