Barbara Tiddi, PhD
German Primate Center

Approved:  December 2011

Original Abstract

The present project focuses on aspects of female mating strategies in a species which has been described as exhibiting "female choice". In particular, this research investigates whether female tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus) adopt specific mating strategies to solve potential conflicts with both males and other females. In examining conflicts with males, the study asks: do capuchin females convey behavioral and acoustic sexual signals via graded-systems?; do females adopt strategies to confuse paternity? Considering conflicts with other females, the study focuses on the following questions: do females compete directly and indirectly  to mate with the alpha male? Do females compete indirectly by engaging in non-conceptive mating?. Tufted capuchin females show at least two features that make them an ideal system from which to examine human sexual behavior from a comparative perspective. First, capuchin females, like human females, solicit their mates mainly through behavioral and vocal cues. Second, capuchin females are extremely active in soliciting males, contrasting with traditional portrayals of females as passive partners. Likewise, the production of effective mate-attracting behaviors has been proposed to be a prevalent component female mating strategies of intrasexual mate competition in humans. Therefore, studies examining mating strategies in a primate species with similar patterns of sexual behaviours and sexual signaling will provide a better model for understanding sexual signaling and mating strategies among humans. The study will be conducted on three wild groups of tufted capuchin monkeys over two mating seasons in Iguaz˙ National Park, Argentina. Factors influencing female mating strategies will be examined by integrating behavioral observations on mating patterns and sexual behaviors with analyses of reproductive hormonal profiles and bio-acoustic analysis of proceptivity calls.

AuthorH Gregory