Hormones and the Sexual Behaviour of Monkeys

  • E. B. Keverne
Conference paper
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


The sexual behaviour of monkeys is very different from that of non-primate species in that it is, to a large extent, emancipated from gonadal control. Female monkeys when paired daily in the laboratory with the male do not show true periodic oestrous behaviour but are prepared to receive the male throughout their menstrual cycle (Michael and Welegalla 1968), and for long periods even following ovariectomy (Michael and Zumpe 1970). Indeed, female solicitations to the males, an index of their willingness to mate, increase after ovariectomy (Zumpe and Michael 1970), a finding in marked contrast to many rodent species. Sexual interactions with the male do, however, vary during the menstrual cycle, being more frequent in the follicular phase especially around mid-cycle for a number of primate species (Talapoin — Scruton and Herbert 1970; Patas monkey — Rowell and Hartwell 1978; Pigtail macaque — Tokuda et al. 1968; Eaton and Resko 1974; Chacma baboon — Saayman 1970; Gelada baboon — Dunbar 1978; Gorilla — Nadler 1975a; Chimpanzee — Tutin 1980; Macaca fascicularis — Zumpe and Michael 1983). Paradoxically, the females solicitations to the male may be very low at this time, and most of the changes in sexual interactions in relationship to the menstrual cycle can be accounted for by changes in female attractiveness (Keverne 1976).


Sexual Behaviour Dominant Male Plasma Testosterone Subordinate Male Dominant Female 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bernstein IS (1976) Dominance, aggression and reproduction in primate societies. J Theor Biol 60: 459–472PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carpenter CR (1942) Social behaviour of free-ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatto) I. Specimens, procedures and behavioural characteristics of estrus. J Comp Physiol Psychol 33:133–142Google Scholar
  3. Dixson AF, Herbert J (1977) Gonadal hormones and sexual behaviour in groups of adult talapoin monkeys(Miopithecus talapoin). Horm Behav 8:141–154PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dunbar RIM (1978) Sexual behaviour and social relationships among gelada baboons. Anim Behav 26:167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eaton GG, Resko JA (1974) Ovarian hormones and sexual behaviour of Macaca nemestrina. J Comp Physiol Psychol 86:919–925PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eberhart JA, Keverne EB, Melier RE (1980a) Social influences on plasma testosterone levels in male talapoin monkeys. Horm Behav 14:247–266PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eberhart JA, Herbert J, Keverne EB, Meiler RE (1980b) Some hormonal aspects of primate social behaviour. In: Endocrinology. Australian Academy of Sciences, Melbourne, pp 622–625Google Scholar
  8. Eberhart JA, Keverne EB, Meiler RE (1983) Social influences on circulating levels of Cortisol and prolactin in male talapoin monkeys. Physiol Behav 30:361–369PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eberhart JA, Yodyingyuad U, Keverne EB (1984, in press) Subordination in male talapoin monkeys has consequences for sexual behaviour that persist in the absence of dominants. Physiol BehavGoogle Scholar
  10. Fabre-Nys C, Meiler RE, Keverne EB (1982) Opiate antagonists stimulate affiliative behaviour in monkeys. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 16:653–660PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harcourt SA, Stewart KJ (1977) Apes, sex and societies. New Sci 76:160–162Google Scholar
  12. Herbert J (1973) The role of the dorsal nerves of the penis in the sexual behaviour of the male rhesus monkey. Physiol Behav 10:293–300PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kaufman JH (1965) A three year study of mating behaviour in a free-ranging band of rhesus monkeys. Ecology 46:500–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Keverne EB (1976) Sexual receptivity and attractiveness in the female rhesus monkey. Adv Study Behav 7:155–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keverne EB (1979) Sexual and aggressive behaviour in social groups of talapoin monkeys. In: Sex, hormones and behaviour. CIBA Symp 62 (new series). Excerpta Medica, Amsterdam, pp 271- 286Google Scholar
  16. Keverne EB, Melier RE, Martinez-Arias AM (1978a) Dominance, aggression and sexual behaviour in social groups of talapoin monkeys. In: Chivers DJ, Herbert J (eds) Recent advances in primatology, vol 1. Academic, New York, pp 533–548Google Scholar
  17. Keverne EB, Leonard RA, Scruton DM, Young SK (1978b) Visual monitoring in social groups of talapoin monkeys (Miopithecus talapoin). Anim Behav 26:933–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keverne EB, Eberhart JA, Meiler RE (1982a) Dominance and subordination concepts or physiological states? In: Advanced views in primate biology. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keverne EB, Meiler RE, Eberhart JA (1982b) Social influences on behaviour and neuroendocrine responsiveness in Talapoin monkeys. Scand J Psychol Suppl 1:37–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meiler RE, Keverne EB, Herbert J (1980) Behavioural and endocrine effects of naltrexone in male talapoin monkeys. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 13:663–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Michael RP (1972) Determinants of primate reproductive behaviour. In: Diczfalusy E, Standley CC (eds) The use of non-human primates in research in human reproduction. WHO publication, Karolinska Institute, pp 322–362Google Scholar
  22. Michael RP, Wellegalla J (1968) Ovarian hormones and the sexual behaviour of the female rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) under laboratory conditions. J Endocrinol 41:407–420PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Michael RP, Wilson M (1973) Effects of castration and hormone replacement in fully adult male rhesus monkeys(Macaca mulatta). Endocrinology 95:150–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Michael RP, Zumpe D (1970) Sexual initiating behaviour by female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) under laboratory conditions. Behaviour 36:168–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nadler RD (1975a) Sexual cychcity in captive lowland gorillas. Sciences (NY) 189:813–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Phoenix CH (1976) Sexual behaviour of castrated male rhesus monkeys treated with 19-hydroxy- testosterone. Physiol Behav 16:305–310PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Phoenix CH, Slob AK, Goy RW (1973) Effects of castration and replacement therapy on sexual behaviour of adult male rhesuses. J Comp Physiol Psychol 84:472–481PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Resko JA, Phoenix CH (1972) Sexual behaviour and testosterone concentrations in the plasma of the rhesus monkey before and after castration. Endocrinology 91:499–503PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rowell TE, Hartwell KM (1978) The interaction of behaviour and reproductive cycles in patas monkeys. Behav Biol 24:141–167PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Saayman GS (1970) The menstrual cycle and sexual behaviour in a troop of free-ranging Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Folia Primatol 12:81–110PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Scruton DM, Herbert J (1970) The menstrual cycle and its effect upon behaviour in the talapoin monkey(Miopithecus talapoin). J Zool (Lond) 162:419–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Smith DG (1981) The association between rank and reproductive success of male rhesus monkeys. J Endocrinol 52: 2 (abstract)Google Scholar
  33. Tokuda K, Simms RC, Jensen JD (1968) Sexual behaviour in a captive group of pigtail macaques (Macaca nemestrina). Primates 9:283–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tutin CEG (1980) Reproductive behaviour of wild chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania. J Reprod Fertil Suppl 28:43–57PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Wilson M, Plant TM, Michael RP (1972) Androgens and the sexual behaviour of male rhesus monkeys. J Endocrinol 52: ii (abstract)PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Yodyingyuad U, de la Riva C, Abbott DH, Herbert J, Keverne EB (1984) Relationship between dominance hierarchy, CSF levels of amine transmitter metabolites (5 HIAA and HVA) and plasma control in monkeys. Neuroscience (in press)Google Scholar
  37. Zumpe D, Michael RP (1970) Ovarian hormones and female sexual invitations in captive rhesus monkeys. Anim Behav 18:293–301PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zumpe D, Michael RP (1979) Relation between the hormonal status of the female and direct aggression by male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Horm Behav 12:269–279PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zumpe D, Michael RP (1983) A comparison of the behaviour of M. fascicularis and M. mulatta in relation to the menstrual cycle. Am J Primatol 4:55–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. B. Keverne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations