The burden of female attraction in moor macaque (Macaca maura) Germani, L.a, Heistermann, M.b, Carosi, M.a a Department of Sciences, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy. b Endocrinology Laboratory, German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany Female mammal reproduction is well-known to be costly. In primates, females can advertise ovulation by means of morphological, behavioral, and chemical cues which, increasing female attractiveness to males, may grant females, beyond mere conception, likely direct/indirect benefits. Conspicuous sexual swelling is a unique morphological signal shown by some Old World primates: sexual hormones cyclically drive the female sexual skin, tail and rump to "exaggeratedly" swell. However, given the conspicuousness, long duration and potential imprecision to pinpoint ovulation, its actual functional significance rose puzzling questions and conflicting hypotheses. Furthermore, although it has been suggested to be particularly costly if compared to other signals, yet little is still known about actual costs females have to face during this particular phase of the cycle. In fact, swelling may increase female body weight, water retention, risk of wounds and infections, resulting in a likely increase of energetic needs, unless behavioral strategies to gain energy balance them out. We investigated female energetic cost in wild Macaca maura, by comparing stress levels (i.e., fecal glucocorticoid metabolite, FGCM), activity budget and nutrient intake among fully swollen, cycling non swollen (as energetic state baseline), and lactating females (widely known as mammal most costly state). Results suggest fully swollen females facing high energetic costs. In fact, they devote the majority of their time towards proceptive and positive interactions with males, while feeding less, reducing nutrient intake and exhibiting high FGCM levels. Contrary to lactating females, fully swollen females do not show behavioral strategies to balance likely energetic expenditure.
Germani, L., Heistermann, M., Carosi, M. (2019). The burden of female attraction in moor macaque (Macaca maura). In "Linking Animal Behavior to Biodiversity, Evolution, Conservation, and Welfare" ETHO 2019, 14th Annual Meeting of the Ethologische Gesellschaft - Book of Abstract (pp.25-25).