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Keywords:

  • Ateles;
  • sex ratio;
  • risky boundaries;
  • home range size;
  • home range perimeters;
  • population density

Abstract

Spider monkey communities are classic fission–fusion primate societies. I present data suggesting that spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) at Lago Caiman are territorial; adult males traveled further and faster than adult females and subgroup size was significantly higher in boundary areas of the spider monkey territory where intercommunity disputes were observed than in non-boundary areas. I then go on to examine data from 20 Ateles communities distributed across 14 study sites and five species to investigate how a series of demographic, ecological and geographical parameters influence the number of males in a given spider monkey community. Analyses suggest that the number of males is not significantly related to the number of females in a community, the area of the community home range, or the total perimeter length of the community boundary. However, risky boundary perimeter length, or the length of perimeter that directly borders another spider monkey community, explains 88% of observed variations in the number of males in each community. I discuss the results in relation to spider monkey ecology and territoriality, as well as the potential of this relationship for explaining chimpanzee (Pan) behavior given their extremely similar fruit specialist, male philopatry, territoriality and fission–fusion social system. Am. J. Primatol. 70:271–281, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.