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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
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An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Prestige Pays Off For Female Chimps
7 August 1997 8:30 pm
Male primates care about status, since dominance offers a host of benefits, from better food to more children. But researchers have long believed that female chimpanzees don't go in for such status-seeking because rank doesn't matter to them very much. A study in tomorrow's issue of Science reveals, however, it's not just a male trait. Female chimps with higher status, it turns out, also enjoy privileges of rank, including producing more offspring than their underlings.
Male chimps often engage in fights and dramatic displays to establish and maintain their positions in a community's rigid hierarchy. Since rivalries between female chimps are much more rare--they spend most of their time independently foraging for food with their youngest offspring--researchers had assumed that rank wasn't important to them.
But over the years, primatologist Jane Goodall, of the Jane Goodall Institute in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and behavioral ecologist Anne Pusey, a colleague from the University of Minnesota (UM), St. Paul, had noticed some advantages for higher ranking females. Now they have looked more carefully at the evidence from 35 years of chimp observations at Gombe National Park in Tanzania--enough data to establish the relative rank of a number of adult females in the group and document their complete reproductive lives. They found that higher ranking females not only produced more offspring, but a greater fraction of them survived and sexually matured at earlier ages.
The reason for this reproductive success is that higher status females probably get better access to food, either by controlling the areas with the best food supplies, or by intimidating lower-ranking females into granting them priority, says team member Jennifer Williams, a behavioral ecologist at UM. Females seem to have "a lot of control of what goes on within their group," she says. Pascal Gagneux, a population biologist at the University of California, San Diego agrees, saying the work will encourage others to take "a much more careful look at what each of the sexes is doing."