Beisner, B. A., Remillard, C. M., Moss,S. et al. 2021. Factors influencing the success of male introductions into groups of female rhesus macaques: Introduction technique, male characteristics and female behavior. American Journal of Primatology 83(9), e23314.
In captive populations of rhesus macaques, novel adult males are commonly introduced to female groups every few years to prevent inbreeding, which mimics male dispersal in wild macaque populations. However, introducing adult males is challenging because macaques are aggressive to newcomers, which can result in serious injuries. Efforts to reduce trauma risk during the introduction process and increase the probability of success are needed. Here we investigate the impact of multiple factors, including male attributes (e.g., age, weight, rank, and experience), introduction method (punctuated vs. continual exposure to females), and female behavior, on males' trauma risk and integration success. We studied eight introductions of multimale cohorts (3–7 males each; N = 36 total) into existing female groups of rhesus macaques at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Four cohorts were introduced using the punctuated exposure method where adult males were moved each morning from run housing to the females' indoor enclosure and returned to run housing in the afternoon, and four cohorts were introduced using the continual exposure method where adult males were moved to an introduction enclosure attached to the females' outdoor compound, allowing males to live in protected contact next to the female group continuously. Generalized linear mixed models fitted to trauma risk (e.g., latency to first trauma; total trauma count) and success or failure to integrate (i.e., continual residence within the female group for greater than 53% of days within a 28-day window after first overnight stay) showed that continual exposure to females in the introduction enclosure reduced male trauma risk and increased the likelihood of successful integration compared to punctuated exposure. Males received less trauma when they received a higher rate of grooming from females. Male attributes had no effect. These findings highlight the importance of introduction technique and female behavior in the process of males' social integration into female groups.