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Keywords:

  • new world primate;
  • callitrichids;
  • births

Abstract

Cotton-top tamains (Saguinus oedipus) are a critically endangered primate found only in Colombia. Efforts to conserve this species are centered on developing effective management plans that integrate biological information regarding population dynamics and factors that influence their survival. This study documented infants born to wild cotton-top tamarin females from 1994–2008 at two distinct field sites in northern Colombia. Our studies have shown that wild cotton-top tamarins typically give birth to one litter each year and infant survival to 6 months of age was greater in the wild than has been reported in captive colonies. However, similar to reports from captive colonies, litter size of wild cotton-top tamarins ranges from 1–3 infants, with twin litters most common. Here we report the first occurrence of triplet litters in nearly 20 years of observing wild cotton-top tamarin groups. Over the first 3 months of life, wild-born infants exhibited highest mortality during the first week of life, similar to reports from captive colonies. Infant survival in the wild also increases with successive litters as it does in captivity. However, inter-birth interval, group size, and the number of adult males in the group did not appear to influence infant survival in the wild. The value of such long-term data from field studies aids in the information that can be used to model future population trends and develop effective conservation plans for this critically endangered primate. Am. J. Primatol. 71:707–711, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.