Weaned age variation in the Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei): influential factors
Maternal investment in offspring is expected to vary according to offspring sex when the reproductive success of the progeny is a function of differential levels of parental expenditure. We conducted a longitudinal investigation of rhesus macaques to determine whether variation in male progeny production, measured with both DNA fingerprinting and short tandem repeat marker typing, could be traced back to patterns of maternal investment. Males weigh significantly more than females at birth, despite an absence of sex differences in gestation length. Size dimorphism increases during infancy, with maternal rank associated with son’s, but not daughter’s, weight at the end of the period of maternal investment. Son’s, but not daughter’s, weight at 1 year of age is significantly correlated with adult weight, and male, but not female, weight accounts for a portion of the variance in reproductive success. Variance in annual offspring output was three- to fourfold higher in males than in females. We suggest that energetic costs of rearing sons could be buffered by fetal delivery of testosterone to the mother, which is aromatized to estrogen and fosters fat accumulation during gestation. We conclude that maternal investment is only slightly greater in sons than in daughters, with mothers endowing sons with extra resources because son, but not daughter, mass has ramifications for offspring sirehood. However, male reproductive tactics supersede maternal investment patterns as fundamental regulators of male fitness.