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Keywords:

  • Northern muriquis;
  • Brachyteles hypoxanthus;
  • mother–offspring associations;
  • maternal support;
  • dispersal;
  • egalitarian society

Abstract

Maternal care of offspring is ubiquitous among primates, but its duration varies across species due to factors such as dispersal patterns and social dynamics, which influence opportunities for and potential benefits of maternal investment in older offspring, respectively. We examined mother-offspring associations in wild northern muriquis (Brachyteles hypoxanthus), in which males are philopatric, females typically disperse before puberty, and social relationships among and between males and females are egalitarian. Associations were systematically recorded between ten mothers, each with two–six offspring in the study group, and all group members from August 2003–May 2004 at the RPPN-Feliciano Miguel Abdala in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Infants of both sexes received similarly high percentages of their mothers' association time. Mothers without infants also maintained strong associations with their youngest juvenile sons. Mothers did not spend consistently more time associating with either juvenile or adult sons than daughters. Our finding of non-preferential associations between muriqui mothers and their older male offspring suggests that extended maternal investment in offspring may be of minimal value in their egalitarian society compared with its value for species living in hierarchical societies. Am. J. Primatol. 70:301–305, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.