Maternal rank and local resource competition do not predict birth sex ratios in wild baboons

Proc Biol Sci. 2005 Apr 22;272(1565):859-64. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2994.


We test two models of adaptive adjustment of birth sex ratios that are expected to apply to Cercopithecine primate species. It has been predicted that when maternal investment differentially influences the reproductive success of male and female offspring, females in good condition will bias investment in favour of the sex that gains the greatest fitness returns from additional investment. This hypothesis was subsequently amended to take into account the effects of local resource competition on maternal investment strategies of primate females. This body of theory has been applied to primates with contradictory results, prompting some to question the conclusion that primate females facultatively adjust birth sex ratios in an adaptive manner. Here, we present a meta-analysis of the relationship between maternal rank, birth sex ratios and local resource competition in 36 groups of wild savannah baboons, Papio cynocephalus. The results do not support predictions derived from either model of facultative sex ratio adjustment, and we conclude that there is currently no evidence that baboon birth sex ratios are adjusted in an adaptive manner.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological*
  • Animals
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hierarchy, Social*
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Papio / genetics*
  • Papio / physiology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Sex Ratio*