Interbirth interval variation in three sympatric species of neotropical monkey



Relatively few papers have focused on interbirth intervals in primates, even though the spacing between births is one of the primary determinants of female reproductive success in long-lived mammals. We present life history data from a ten-year field study of Costa Rican capuchins (Cebus capucinus), howlers (Alouatta palliata), and spidei monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi). Analyses of intraspecific variability found no significant differences attributable to individual variation in age, parity, weight, or maternal rank. Loss of an infant significantly shortened the interbirth interval in all three species. There was no correlation between annual rainfall and birth rates, but there was a significant clustering of births in the dry season. Survival analyses demonstrated a significant difference between the median interbirth intervals of the three species. Howlers have the shortest intervals (19.9 months), capuchins exhibit longer intervals (26.36 months), and spider monkeys have the longest intervals (34.72 months;. This comparative pattern does not correspond to relative body weights of the three species, but does correspond to relative brain weights. Comparisons to other primates with similar life history characteristics demonstrate that interbirth intervals are best examined at the level of their three component phases: gestation, lactation, and cycling to re-conception. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.