The dark side of the red ape: male-mediated lethal female competition in Bornean orangutans

Anna M. Marzec, Julia A. Kunz, Sonja Falkner, Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, Shauhin E. Alavi, Alysse M. Moldawer, Erin R. Vogel, Caroline Schuppli, Carel P. van Schaik, Maria A. van Noordwijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Female Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) are mainly solitary and philopatric, leading to adult female relatives sharing adjacent and overlapping home ranges. Females tend to be intolerant of unrelated females, with whom they also may have overlapping home ranges. However, fights that lead to injuries are extremely rare and lethal aggression had never been observed. Here, we report the first case of lethal female-female aggression during over 26,000 h of focal data collected on adult females at Tuanan, Central Kalimantan: A young female, who had recently lost her infant, attacked an old resident female. The interaction’s unique feature was that the attacking female was supported by an unflanged male, who had been in consort with her during the week preceding the attack and was responsible for the lethal injuries to the victim. The victim received protection from a flanged male who was probably attracted to the noise generated by the fight. We conclude that even in a species in which coercion is frequently observed in male-female interactions, female leverage over males can coax males into providing services, such as coalitionary support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-466
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume70
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

Keywords

  • Coalitionary attack
  • Female-female competition
  • Lethal aggression
  • Male support
  • Orangutan

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    Marzec, A. M., Kunz, J. A., Falkner, S., Atmoko, S. S. U., Alavi, S. E., Moldawer, A. M., Vogel, E. R., Schuppli, C., van Schaik, C. P., & van Noordwijk, M. A. (2016). The dark side of the red ape: male-mediated lethal female competition in Bornean orangutans. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70(4), 459-466. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-015-2053-3