The effects of lactation and infant care on adult energy budgets in wild siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus)


  • Susan Lappan

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecoscience, Ewha University, Seoul 120-750, Republic of Korea
    • Department of Ecoscience #365B, Ewha University, Seodaemun-gu, Daehyun-dong, 11-1, Seoul 120-750, Republic of Korea
    Search for more papers by this author


In mammals with biparental care of offspring, males and females may bear substantial energetic costs of reproduction. Adult strategies to reduce energetic stress include changes in activity patterns, reduced basal metabolic rates, and storage of energy prior to a reproductive attempt. I quantified patterns of behavior in five groups of wild siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus) to detect periods of high energetic investment by adults and to examine the relationships between infant care and adult activity patterns. For females, the estimated costs of lactation peaked at around infant age 4–6 months and were low by infant age 1 year, whereas the estimated costs of infant-carrying peaked between ages 7 and 12 months, and approached zero by age 16 months. There was a transition from primarily female to male care in the second year of life in some groups. Females spent significantly less time feeding during lactation than during the later stages of infant care, suggesting that female siamangs do not use increased food intake to offset the costs of lactation. Female feeding time was highest between infant ages 16 and 21 months, a period of relatively low female investment in the current offspring that coincided with the period of highest male investment in infant care. This suggests that male care may reduce the costs of infant care for females in the later stages of a reproductive attempt. The female energy gain resulting from male care was likely invested in somatic maintenance and future reproduction, rather than the current offspring. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.