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Keywords:

  • Colobus vellerosus;
  • individual recognition;
  • dye-marking;
  • extragroup mating

Abstract

The ability to recognize individuals is a prerequisite for analyzing social relationships. We marked five adult and subadult Colobus vellerosus (three in 2002, and two in 2003) at the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Ghana, to assess the feasibility of dye-marking black-and-white colobus, describe their reactions, and compare some of their behaviors with those of unmarked individuals. We used Nyanzol-D, a nontoxic black dye sprayed on the white tail (or white thigh) of the animal with a spray gun or a tree sprayer. Reactions to the marking procedure ranged from moving away and staring at the observer, without interruption in feeding (in one subject), to fleeing about 5 m away (in four subjects). In 234 hr of ad libitum observations (in 2002 and 2003), marks were scratched or otherwise were the object of attention from the bearer or other individuals on only one occasion. In 2002 we collected 22 hr of observations on the three marked monkeys and some unmarked monkeys in 10-min focal samples. Neither the marked nor the unmarked animals attended to the marks during focal samples. Marked and unmarked individuals displayed similar rates of displacement activities (autogrooming, scratching, and yawning). The proportion of scans with at least one near neighbor varied between marked and unmarked subjects, but the direction of the difference was not the same between males and females. The only aggression observed was displacements, and only in one comparison (out of four) did a difference emerge: the marked subadult male received more displacements than the unmarked males. Overall, marked and unmarked individuals did not differ consistently in our measures. Examination of the potential effects of marking should continue, since changes in pelage coloration may have longer-term social effects in species that rely largely on vision. Am. J. Primatol. 65:197–203, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.