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Keywords:

  • quantitative genetics;
  • infant mortality;
  • juveniles;
  • reproductive ecology;
  • Cayo Santiago

The genetics of primate life histories are poorly understood, but quantitative genetic patterns in other mammals suggest phenotypic differences among individuals early in life can be strongly affected by interactions with mothers or other caretakers. I used generalized linear mixed model extensions of complex pedigree quantitative genetic techniques to explore regression coefficients and variance components for infant and juvenile mortality rates across prereproductive age classes in the semifree ranging Cayo Santiago rhesus macaques. Using a large set of records (maximum n = 977 mothers, 6,240 offspring), strong maternal effects can be identified early in development but they rapidly “burn off” as offspring age and mothers become less consistent buffers from increasingly prominent environmental variation. The different ways behavioral ecologists and animal breeders have defined and studied maternal effects can be subsumed, and even blended, within the quantitative genetic framework. Regression coefficients identify loss of the mother, maternal age, and offspring age within their birth cohort as having significant maternal effects on offspring mortality, while variance components for maternal identity record significant maternal influence in the first month of life. Am. J. Primatol. 75:238-251, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.