Olive Baboon - Behaviour and Ecology - Reproduction and Parenting

Reproduction and Parenting

Females are sexually mature at seven to eight years old, and males at seven to 10 years. The beginning of their ovulation is a signal to the males that she is ready to mate. During ovulation, the skin of the female's anogenital area swells and turns a bright red/pink. The swelling makes it difficult to move and increases the female's chance of microbial or parasite infection. Females with larger swellings reproduce at a younger age, produce a larger number of offspring per year, and a larger number of those offspring survive. Females with larger swellings attract more males and are more likely to cause aggressive fights between them. Olive baboons tend to mate promiscuously. A male will form a mating consortship with an estrous female, staying close to and copulating with her. A male will guard his partner against any other male trying to mate with her. Unless a female is in a multiday consortship, she will often copulate with more than one male each day. Multiple copulations are not necessary for reproduction, but may function to make the actual paternity of the female's offspring ambiguous. This lack of paternal certainty could help reduce the occurrence of infanticide. Occasionally, male olive baboons will monopolize a female for her entire period of probable conception, but this is rare. The male will prevent other males from mating with his female during consortship.

Newborns have black natal coats and bright pink skin. Females are the primary caregivers of infants, but males also play a role. For the first few days of life, the infant may be unable to stay attached to its mother and relies on her for physical support. However, its grasp grows stronger by its first week and it is able to cling to its mother's fur by itself. By two weeks, the infant begins to explore its surroundings for short periods, but stay near her. The distance the infant spends away from its mother increases the older it gets. In general, higher-ranking females are usually more relaxed parents than lower ranking females, which usually keep their offspring close to them. However, this difference only lasts for about the first eight weeks of an infant's life. Olive baboons do not seems to practice cooperative parenting, but a female may groom an infant that is not hers. Subadult and juvenile females are more likely to care for another's young, as they have not produced offspring of their own yet. One theory for why immature females tend to seek out infants is so they can prepare for their future roles as mothers. Infant baboons born to first-time mothers suffer higher mortality than those born to experienced mothers, which suggests prior experience in caring for infants may be very important. Adult males in the groups will also care for the infants, as they are they are likely to be related to them. Males groom infants, reducing the amount of parasites they many have, and calm them when they are stressed. They even protect them from predators, such as chimpanzees. However, adult males exploit infants and use them to reduce their chances of being threatened by other males.

Read more about this topic:  Olive Baboon, Behaviour and Ecology

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