Reproductive and Life History Parameters of Wild Female Macaca assamensis

Int J Primatol. 2010 Aug;31(4):501-517. doi: 10.1007/s10764-010-9409-3. Epub 2010 May 14.


Information on basic reproductive parameters and life-history traits is crucial for the understanding of primate evolution, ecology, social behavior, and reproductive strategies. Here, we report 4 yr of data on reproductive and life-history traits for wild female Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, northeastern Thailand. During 2 consecutive reproductive seasons, we investigated reproductive behavior and sexual swelling size in 16 females and collected 1832 fecal samples. Using enzyme immunoassays, we measured fecal estrogen and progesterone metabolites to assess ovarian activity and timing of ovulation and to ascertain conceptions and pregnancies. Timing of reproduction was strictly seasonal (births: April-July, 86% in April-June, 4 yr, n = 29; conceptions: October-February, 65% in December-January, 2 yr, n = 17). Females showed no cyclic ovarian activity outside the mating season and conceived in their first or second cycle (mean: 1.2 cycles to conception, n = 13). Gestation length was on average 164.2 d (range: 158-170, n = 10), and females had their first infant at an age of 5 yr (n = 4). Interbirth intervals were bimodally distributed, with females giving birth on average every 13.9 or 23.2 mo. Shorter interbirth intervals were linked to early parturition within the birth season. Most females displayed subcaudal sexual swellings which, however, did not reliably indicate female reproductive status or fertility. Overall, our results fall within the range of findings reported for other macaque species. These results thus add to the growing body of information available for wild macaques, facilitating comparative studies for a better understanding of interspecific differences in social and reproductive patterns.