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Keywords:

  • Rhinopithecus bieti;
  • sleeping habits;
  • huddling;
  • social relationship

Abstract

Weather, predation, and social organization are hypothesized to influence sleeping habits of nonhuman primates at night. To investigate how the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti) prepares for and behaves during cold nights in their harsh alpine forest habitat (above 3,000 m), we studied the sleeping habits of the 171 one-male units (OMU) in one group for 12 months at Xiangguqing in the Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve, China. It took 20.2 min from the time the study group entered a sleeping site until they fell asleep. This duration was consistent over seasons. On average, sleeping time was 11.5 hr per night over the year. Seasonal mean lengths of sleeping time varied significantly, however, and ranged from 10 to 13 hr per night, correlating with night length. Two sleeping styles were distinguishable: solitary sleeping and huddled sleeping. That adult males in OMUs principally slept alone. This is likely to reflect night-time guarding behavior. Female–juvenile and female–infant dyadic huddles were the most prevalent sleeping unit (42% of all observed data), and the monkeys employed female-biased huddling during nocturnal sleep. Huddled sleeping group size showed significant seasonal variation, with the largest huddle (eight individuals) occurring in winter. Climate and social organization profoundly influence the nocturnal sleeping habits of R. bieti, while huddling behavior may help shield animals from cold nights and provide additional protection against predators. Am. J. Primatol. 72:1092–1099, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.