Life-history traits: ecological adaptations or phylogenetic relics?

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Macaque Societies: A Model for the Study of Social Organization, Cambridge University Press, Number 41, Cambridge, p.80–83 (2004)



The macaques constitute one of the largest genera of extant primates and represent arguably the most ecologically diverse species within the order. They also exhibit striking variation in their life-history traits, as summarised in Tables 1a and b (this chapter) and Box Table 1 here. A meta-analysis of the traits displayed by 15 of the better-studied species was carried out, using these data, to determine the extent to which these traits have been shaped by the ecology of the various species and to discern whether such traits exhibit any phylogenetic inertia, given that these species share a recent common origin. For this, the respective values of each independent life-history variable were classified into either of two categories on the basis of the median value of each; these were assigned category labels of 1 and 2 respectively as follows: Male body weight ? Less than / Greater than 11.0 kg, Female body weight ? Less than / Greater than 6.5 kg, Female age at sexual maturity ? Less than / Greater than 43.8 months, Sexual swelling ? Absent / Pronounced, Cycle length ? Less than / Greater than 31 days, Mount pattern ? Single Mount Ejaculation (SME) / Multiple Mount Ejaculation (MME), Gestation period ? Less than / Greater than 171 days, Age at first birth ? Less than / Greater than 60 months, Birth interval ? Less than / Greater than 547 days, Birth seasonality ? Present / Absent, and Adult female : male ratio ? Less than / Greater than 3.