Resource competition shapes female–female aggression in olive baboons, Papio anubis

Sam K. Patterson, Shirley C. Strum, Joan B. Silk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For mammalian females, which bear the energetic costs of gestation and lactation, competition over food resources is generally expected to have a more important impact on reproductive success than competition over mates. However, there are some situations in which mammalian females compete over access to mates, limited supplies of sperm or caretaking for their offspring. Competition over both access to food and access to mates have been documented in female baboons (Papio spp.). Here, we examined the relative importance of competition over food and mates for wild female olive baboons, Papio anubis, in shaping the patterns of aggression among females. Lactating and pregnant females were more aggressive than females in other reproductive states, and sexually receptive females initiated and received relatively little aggression. There was no evidence that females competed over caretakers for their offspring or reduced future competition through reproductive suppression. Our data suggest that competition over food plays a more important role than competition over mates for female olive baboons. The body of current evidence suggests that evolution has finely tuned female baboons’ responses to the competitive pressures that they face in their local environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-41
Number of pages19
JournalAnimal Behaviour
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Papio anubis
  • aggression
  • baboon
  • intrasexual selection
  • resource competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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