• predation risk;
  • interspecific association;
  • Leontopithecus chrysomelas;
  • cabruca;
  • agroforest


Forming interspecific associations is one of many strategies adopted by primates in order to avoid predation. In addition to improved predator detection and avoidance, benefits of interspecific associations relate to improved foraging efficiency. In this study we tested these two hypotheses explaining associations between the endangered golden-headed lion tamarin, Leontopithecus chrysomelas and the sympatric Wied's marmoset, Callithrix kuhlii. We estimated predation risk by recording the number of encounters between lion tamarins and potential predators in cabruca agroforest (shaded cacao plantation) and in mosaic forest (a mix of cabruca, primary and secondary forest). To evaluate if the association between the two species was related to foraging benefits we recorded the number of associations between the two species when the lion tamarins were eating and when they were not eating. To test if the association occurred to improve predator detection and avoidance, we evaluated if associations between the species were more frequent in areas with higher predation risk and during the part of the day when predation risk is higher. We also compared the number of associations 3 months before birth events and 3 months after, when the lion tamarins are more susceptible to predation. Predation risk, mainly by raptors, was significantly higher in cabruca than in mosaic forest (0.17 and 0.05 encounters with predators per hour of observation, respectively). Associations were significantly more frequent after birth events and during the part of the day when predation risk was also higher (5–6 am until noon). We did not observe any direct evidence of foraging-related advantages of interspecific associations for the lion tamarins. The tamarins did not associate more when they were foraging. Our findings suggest that lion tamarins are more exposed to predation in cabruca than in mosaic forest and associations between lion tamarins and Wied's marmosets are related to predation avoidance. Am. J. Primatol. 73:852–860, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.