Behavioral variation and reproductive success of male baboons (Papio anubis x Papio hamadryas) in a hybrid social group

Am J Primatol. 2008 Feb;70(2):136-47. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20467.


We take advantage of an array of hybrid baboons (Papio anubis x Papio hamadryas) living in the same social group to explore the causes and consequences of different male mating strategies. Male hamadryas hold one-male units and exhibit a sustained, intense interest in adult females, regardless of the latter's reproductive state. Anubis baboons, by contrast, live in multi-male, multi-female groups where males compete for females only when the latter are estrous. These two taxa interbreed to form a hybrid zone in the Awash National Park, Ethiopia, where previous work has suggested that hybrid males have intermediate and ineffective behavior. Here, we first examine male mating strategies with respect to morphological and genetic measures of ancestry. We found significant relationships between behavioral measures and morphology; males with more hamadryas-like morphology had more hamadryas-like behavior. However, genetic ancestry was not related to behavior, and in both cases intermediates displayed a previously unreported level of behavioral variation. Furthermore, male behavior was unrelated to natal group. Second, we evaluated reproductive success by microsatellite-based paternity testing. The highest reproductive success was found for individuals exhibiting intermediate behaviors. Moreover, over nine years, some genetically and morphologically intermediate males had high reproductive success. We conclude that the behavior of hybrid males is therefore unlikely to be an absolute barrier to admixture in the region.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Ethiopia
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Observation
  • Papio anubis / genetics
  • Papio anubis / physiology*
  • Papio hamadryas / genetics
  • Papio hamadryas / physiology*
  • Phenotype*
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*