Pregnancy outcome in free-ranging vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops)



A preliminary assessment of individual female differences in conception rate and fetal wastage has been determined for a population of wild vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). One of three troops of vervet monkeys, the subjects of a long-term behavioral study, was trapped and blood was obtained for electrophoretic analysis. Pregnant females exhibited a distinctive serum aminopeptidase phenotype allowing a conclusive determination of pregnancy. Of the seven females diagnosed as pregnant, three later gave birth. Of the females that aborted, two were nulliparous and one was very old. Studies of captive animals have indicated that age and rank may affect a female's ability to carry a fetus to term. These factors, rather than the trapping procedure, may have been responsible for most of the fetal loss in the trapped troop. A comparison of all three troops for a 3-year period indicated that there were fluctuations in yearly birth success of individual females, as well as a relatively high miscarriage rate. The results of this study indicate the advantages of obtaining joint behavioral and biological data.