Extended female sexuality in species living in multimale-multifemale groups appears to enhance benefits from multiple males. Mating with many males, however, requires a low female monopolizability, which is affected by the spatiotemporal distribution of receptive females. Ovarian cycle synchrony potentially promotes overlapping receptivity if fertile and receptive periods are tightly linked. In primates, however, mating is often decoupled from hormonal control, hence reducing the need for synchronizing ovarian events. Here, we test the alternative hypothesis that females behaviorally coordinate their receptivity while simultaneously investigating ovarian cycle synchrony in wild, seasonal Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis), a promiscuous species with extremely extended female sexuality. Using fecal hormone analysis to assess ovarian activity we show that fertile phases are randomly distributed, and that dyadic spatial proximity does not affect their distribution. We present evidence for mating synchrony, i.e., the occurrence of the females' receptivity was significantly associated with the proportion of other females mating on a given day. Our results suggest social facilitation of mating synchrony, which explains (i) the high number of simultaneously receptive females, and (ii) the low male mating skew in this species. Active mating synchronization may serve to enhance the benefits of extended female sexuality, and may proximately explain its patterning and maintenance. © 2011 Fürtbauer et al.
Fürtbauer, I., Mundry, R., Heistermann, M., Schülke, O., & Ostner, J. (2011). You mate, I mate: Macaque females synchronize sex not cycles. PLoS ONE, 6(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026144