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Keywords:

  • offspring mortality;
  • forest productivity;
  • seasonal reproduction

Abstract

A three-year (2001–2003) study was carried out on the home range characteristics of seven wild white-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar) groups focusing on the spatio-temporal distribution of food resources at Khao Yai National Park in northeastern Thailand. These results were combined with 23 years (1980–2003) of reproductive performance data on seven females from the same focal groups. Reproductive performance was equal among females with regard to birth, weaning and maturation ratios, and independent of variation in food availability. Offspring mortality, however, was significantly positively correlated with home-range size. In addition, there was an increase in offspring mortality just after weaning, suggesting that the increase in the daily distance traveled by juveniles contributed to this mortality. Conceptions clustered during the first half of the year when food production was at its peak, which presumably allowed females to accumulate sufficient body reserves to resume ovarian cycling. Our results place Khao Yai gibbons closer to Cercopithecidae than great apes in terms of the temporal pattern of reproductive events, though gestation, lactation, inter-birth interval, and offspring maturation are considerably longer in gibbons, placing them closer to the other apes. Our findings underline the unique phylogenetic position of these small-bodied apes in terms of reproductive patterns in primates. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.