The influence of oestrous swellings on the grooming behavior of chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest, Uganda

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Allogrooming among primates has been suggested as a strategy for enhancing reproductive success, by allowing males to enhance their proximity to oestrous females, or by influencing female choice through the development of affiliative relationships with males. Female chimpanzees have swollen anogenital regions signalling receptivity and by adapting their grooming investment accordingly, males could increase their copulatory success whilst females may increase chances of copulations with preferred males. Five and a half years of data from chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, were examined to investigate how sexual swellings influence grooming behaviour between males and females of different age classes. Based on the availability of oestrous females, significantly less grooming than expected occurred between anoestrous females and adult males, as well as between adult (anoestrous and oestrous) females and subadult males, but significantly more grooming than expected occurred between oestrous females and adult males or subadult males. Both oestrous adult and subadult females devoted more time to grooming interactions with adult males than did anoestrous females. Grooming interactions between adult males and oestrous adult females were initiated and terminated significantly more often by males, but those between anoestrous subadult females and adult males were initiated significantly more frequently by females.

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