"Following," an Alternative Mating Strategy Used by Male Olive Baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis): Quantitative Behavioral and Functional Description

Lisa M. Danish, Ryne A. Palombit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recent data reveal that high-ranking males are unable to monopolize sexual access to fertile females, suggesting the potential evolutionary significance of alternative strategies across many taxa. We examined a well known behavior, "following" of a consortship by adult male olive baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis), that has received little empirical attention. Four consort takeover tactics have been suggested, for both follower and nonfollower males: takeover of an abandoned consort female, individual aggressive challenge to oust the consort male, coalitionary challenge to oust the consort male, or an opportunistic consort takeover relying on the consort male being distracted. We addressed the following questions: 1) How does the behavior of followers differ from nonfollowers? 2) Is following an effective alternative mating strategy? 3) What tactics do followers use to obtain access to fertile females? 4) Do dominance rank and female cycle day influence tactic expression? We studied two habituated groups of olive baboons from September 2009 to July 2010 in Kenya. Followers had a higher rate of agonistic interactions with the consort male and affiliative interactions with other followers. Overall, 74% of consort takeovers were executed by follower males of the targeted consortships. Each of the four consort takeover tactics were used by both follower and nonfollower males, although followers used the individual aggressive challenge and coalitionary challenge tactics more often than nonfollowers. Dominance rank, but not female cycle day, influenced the expression of consort takeover tactics. Our findings indicate that following provides males with sexual access to females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-410
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Alternative mating strategy
  • Following
  • Sexual selection


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