Report

A Bruce Effect in Wild Geladas

Science  23 Feb 2012:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1213600

Abstract

Female rodents are known to terminate pregnancies after exposure to unfamiliar males (“Bruce effect”). Although laboratory support abounds, direct evidence for a Bruce effect under natural conditions is lacking. Here, we report a strong Bruce effect in a wild primate, the gelada (Theropithecus gelada). Female geladas terminate 80% of pregnancies in the weeks after a dominant male is replaced. Further, data on interbirth intervals suggest that pregnancy termination offers fitness benefits for females whose offspring would otherwise be susceptible to infanticide. Taken together, data support the hypothesis that the Bruce effect can be an adaptive strategy for females.

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