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Open Access Predictors of Matrilineal Overthrows in Large Captive Breeding Groups of Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta)

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The purpose of this retrospective case-control study was to identify and assess biologically plausible variables that may predispose a captive rhesus macaque breeding colony to a matrilineal overthrow. Matrilineal overthrows are the result of members of multiple matrilines jointly attacking the highest-ranking matriline. Matrilineal overthrows in captive rhesus macaque colonies result in significant morbidity, mortality, and loss of genetic diversity. The following variables were investigated as potential determinants of overthrows: season, cage density, demographics, sex ratio, age of the alpha and beta animals, absence of the alpha and beta animals, pregnancy status of the alpha and beta females, number of adult females in the alpha matriline, recent changes in the male hierarchy, time since group formation, and number of adolescent males in the alpha matriline. Data were collected from January 1996 through January 2007. Univariate analysis indicated that absence of the alpha female from the group was associated with matrilineal overthrows, but multivariate analysis was not totally supportive. Conditional logistic regression identified number of juvenile males and number of adolescent males as associated with an overthrow; exact logistic regression was supportive. Principal component analysis followed by multivariate logistic regression identified 2 marginally nonsignificant predictors (the density and alpha factors). Our results suggest a possible association between the occurrence of a matrilineal overthrow and the following factors: absence of the alpha female, decreased housing density, number of juvenile males, and number of adolescent males.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Campus Veterinary Service, University of California, Davis, California 2: Veterinary Medicine, Population Health and Reproduction, University of California, Davis, California 3: Vice Chancellor-Research, University of California, San Diego, California 4: Veterinary Medicine, Population Health and Reproduction, University of California, Davis, California; California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, California 5: Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, California; California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, California

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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