Allomaternal behavior in a group of free-ranging patas monkeys

Authors

  • E. L. Zucker,

    Corresponding author
    1. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
    • Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
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  • J. R. Kaplan

    1. University of Alabama, Birmingham
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Abstract

A free-ranging group of patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) containing 18 individually identifiable adult females was observed for approximately 400 hours, equally distributed over two two-month periods corresponding to the breeding and birth seasons, at the La Parguera facility of the Caribbean Primate Research Center. The large number of infants born in the spring and early summer (n = 14) allowed for detailed observations of alloparental behaviors, with a focus on allomothering by the adult females. Seven types of alloparental behaviors were recorded: contact, nuzzling, grooming, agonism, close visual inspection, attempted kidnapping, and kidnapping. Adult females emitted the vast majority of allomaternal behavior, the patterning and frequency of which closely resembled the patterning and frequency of inter-adult female social grooming. Relative dominance status of the participants did not consistently predict the directionality of allomothering. The most commonly observed allomaternal behaviors were contact and nuzzling, which are primarily affiliative behaviors; agonism was rare. Successful kidnapping occurred eight times. Immature monkeys (n = 22) emitted an additional 32 alloparental acts. A propensity towards allomothering by experienced females would be most beneficial to patas infants due to the patas' tendency towards dispersed foraging and rapid flight in the presence of danger. It is possible that direct competition with groups of rhesus macaques for available resources on the island served as a proximal cause for the allomothering observed in this patas group.

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