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Keywords:

  • Alouatta palliata;
  • juvenile behavior;
  • hormonal development;
  • sex differences

Abstract

Behavioral observations on juvenile mantled howlers are limited by visually undifferentiated genitalia; however, animals can be sexed when they are very young or if they are captured. Behavioral data and fecal samples from juveniles during month-long field studies from 1993 to 1995 were analyzed to determine whether there are developmental differences in behavior or hormone concentrations that can be used to differentiate males from females. The subjects were juveniles of known sex and age from five different social groups on Hacienda La Pacifica, Costa Rica. Based on 749.8 hr of focal-animal sampling, there were no sex differences in daily activity patterns. There were no sex differences in proximity to mothers and other group members, and age differences reflected howler life-history patterns. There were no differences in estradiol or testosterone concentration by age or sex. Juvenile monomorphy thus extends beyond morphology to behavioral and hormonal similarity as well. Most juveniles are forced out of their natal groups and remain solitary until they join new groups by supplanting all same-sex adult group members. Monomorphy may allow them to spend more time in natal groups, and thus both reduce the solitary period and allow the juveniles to improve social skills needed for later immigration. While this strategy may benefit juvenile howlers, it remains a problem for those who wish to study juvenile sex differences from a distance. Am. J. Primatol. 69:1–8, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.