Monogamy Journal

In class we discussed different animal behavior and learned that animals typically do not like to be touched besides during times of breeding. We learned that this solitary route is not always the most beneficial and in some cases tactile communication can occur (nuzzling and grooming), which reduces aggression and encourages bonding as well as the sharing of resources. These types of behaviors are common among mammals which we have classified as k-strategists. These individuals focus more on the survival aspect of their offspring with much increased competition. Unlike r-strategists such as insects, parental care is imperative especially with a smaller number of offspring. Because of this, it would be beneficial to have a bi-parenthood. The female cares for the young through lactation and the male acts as protection. We learned that between the two genders, males tend to exhibit r-selection in order to perpetuate their traits; in other words polygamy. This makes the female population a limited resource and because of this, it might be more advantageous to participate in a monogamous relationship and perpetuate traits through multiple reproduction events.It makes more sense and seems to more securely ensure the survival of the offspring.

The articles go far more in depth with the correlations and cause factors of monogamy in primates. Lukas and Brock claim that under the monogamy evolved under these conditions, “…feeding competition between females were intense, breeding females were intolerant of each other, and population density was low.” With this, guarding individual females became a more efficient means of breeding and contributed to the fitness of both. In the article, it explained how bi-parental care allowed for more offspring. In the conditions stated earlier, because population density is low and competition is high, it is more advantageous or rather reliable to invest more in one mate. It is more likely to result in more breeding cycles as oppose to aimlessly searching for more females in a low density populated area. The other article makes similar hypotheses, “..parental care, mate guarding, and infanticide risk (Opie et al).” In both articles, the location of females is also important. This falls under the low density population which makes polygamy/monopolizing females more difficult. Now in the Opie article, there is a much heavier concentration on the male guarding specifically against infanticidal males. Both articles pose convincing arguments with very thorough analysis and correlations to back it up. The phylogeny comparisons seemed similar; looking at evolution of the very discreet groups. However,  I found the Opie article to be more conclusive by mentioning the complexity of primates and their brains which I believe Lukas overlooked, “…developmental costs of large brains through male care (Opie et al).” I think this goes along with their argument of infanticide and their ability to even do this and realize the risk of competition. They also lay out the methods very clearly, though I know Lukas and Brock used similar means such as the analysis of correlated traits.

These articles have definitely given me a better understanding of the basis for monogamy in mammals and especially primates. I always thought that monogamy was established among primates seeing that they are closely related to humans and their portrayal through media (ex. Tarzan). In both articles one of the correlating factors is this dispersal of females and their distribution in low densities, “…females occupy small but discrete ranges (Opie et al).” It surprised me that these conditions foster the rise in monogamy, because I thought it would be a result of monogamy. I understand that this dispersal creates higher competition but I just wonder what preceded this movement. There is hostility between females in some cases but then I think there would be more of a push towards solitary living. It’s especially interesting to realize that monogamy is advantageous for these individuals. When applied to humans it seemed like a sort of subjective subject or pertaining to culture but the articles really put on a new perspective.

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