In mammals, purring has been described in mostly affiliative contexts. In the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), both males and females purr, but only males were observed purring in agonistic contexts. In order to determine whether male ring-tailed lemurs purr as aggressive displays during intrasexual agonistic encounters, 480 h of focal data were collected on 25 adult males from Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar, from March to July 2010. The male purring rate increased during periods of male-male agonism when compared to times without intrasexual agonism, and the purring rate was positively correlated with male dominance rank. However, the purring rate was not significantly higher during winning agonistic interactions when compared with losing encounters. My results indicate that the male ring-tailed lemur purr is used most frequently as an agonistic vocalization in male-male encounters, in addition to being used less frequently in other social contexts, including during tail-waving at females, resting, scent-marking, feeding and copulation. Dominant males have higher purring rates across social situations, suggesting that the purring rate may be driven by intrinsic male qualities rather than functioning as a meaningful signal in each disparate social context. Male purring in intrasexual agonistic encounters can be added to previously described social contexts for ring-tailed lemur purring.

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