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Keywords:

  • polyspecific;
  • sex differences;
  • trichromacy;
  • dichromacy

Abstract

Leadership of travel progression is an important aspect of group living. It is widely believed that trichromacy evolved to facilitate the detection and selection of fruit in the dappled light of a forest. Further, it has been proposed that in New World primate species, which typically contain a range of color vision phenotypes, at least one female in a group will be trichromatic (i.e., having three types of visual pigment, in contrast to the two types of pigment found in dichromatic individuals) and will lead the group to fruiting trees. We examine progression leadership within two wild mixed-species troops of saddleback (Saguinus fuscicollis) and mustached (Saguinus mystax) tamarins over a complete year. As whole units, the mixed-species troops were most frequently led by a mustached tamarin. This is the first time that mixed-species group leadership and individual leadership have been quantified in these tamarin species. In terms of single-species intragroup leadership, neither the visual status (dichromatic or trichromatic) nor the sex of individuals had a consistent effect across species. Saddleback tamarin groups were led by males more frequently than females, while evidence suggests that mustached tamarins may be female-led. The notion that all groups contain at least one trichromatic female that leads the troop to feeding trees was not supported. Am. J. Primatol. 61:145–157, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.