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Keywords:

  • sleeping sites;
  • predation;
  • Leontopithecus;
  • Callitrichidae

Abstract

Sleeping sites, their patterns of use, and cryptic pre-retirement behavior mitigate predation risk at sleeping sites and could influence prey fitness. We evaluated sleeping-site usage for 10 groups of golden lion tamarins (GLTs) from a population that recently suffered a substantial decline due to predation at sleeping sites. We recorded the average number of nights that groups spent at their different sleeping sites to determine whether patterns of sleeping-site use were influenced by predation risk, as measured by the rate of encounters with predators, or the availability of suitable sleeping sites, as measured by the size of a group's home range and amount of mature forest within their home range. In addition, we measured travel speed to sleeping sites and compared this speed with that recorded at other times of day. GLT groups spent more nights on average at each of their sleeping sites compared to other callitrichid species for which data are available. Predation risk and habitat characteristics were not significant predictors of how many times groups used each of their different sleeping sites. Groups significantly increased their travel speed just before entering the sleeping site. Rapid locomotion to secure tree cavities may help GLTs avoid crepuscular and nocturnal predators; however, we speculate that this strategy failed numerous GLTs in our study population during the previous decade because they used sleeping sites that were accessible to predators. Am. J. Primatol. 69:1–11, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.