Multimodal advertisement of pregnancy in free-ranging female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

Lucie Rigaill, Andrew J.J. Macintosh, James P. Higham, Sandra Winters, Keiko Shimizu, Keiko Mouri, Takeshi Furuichi, Cécile Garcia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The role of multiple sexual signals in indicating the timing of female ovulation, and discrimination of this timing by males, has been particularly well studied among primates. However the exhibition of pregnancy signals, and how such signals might modulate male post-conception mating decisions, is still poorly understood. Here we aimed to determine if Japanese macaque males use changes in female sexual signals (behavioral, visual and auditory) to discriminate pregnancy and adjust their socio-sexual behaviors. We combined behavioral observations, digital photography and endocrinological (progestogen and estrogen) data, collected systematically during three one-month periods: the pre-conceptive period, the 1st month of pregnancy and the 2nd month of pregnancy. We analyzed variation in the probability of detecting male and female socio-sexual behaviors and estrus calls, as well as changes in female face color parameters, in relation to female reproductive state. Based on our focal observations, we found that males did not copulate during the pregnancy period, and that female socio-sexual behaviors generally decreased from the pre-conceptive to post-conceptive periods. Female face luminance decreased from the pre-conceptive month to the pregnancy period whereas face color only varied between the 1st and 2nd month of gestation. Our results suggest that Japanese macaque females display sexual cues of pregnancy that males might use to reduce energy wasted on non-reproductive copulations with pregnant females. We hypothesize that females advertize their pregnancy through changes in behavioral, visual and potential auditory signals that males can use to adjust their mating behaviors. We finish by discussing implications for male and female post-conception strategies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere0135127
    JournalPloS one
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Aug 26 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
    • General


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