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Keywords:

  • Ateles geoffroyi;
  • dispersal;
  • immigration;
  • male–male relationships;
  • social system

ABSTRACT

Dispersal patterns are critical for understanding social systems as they influence social interactions and relationships. Spider monkeys (Ateles spp.) are typically described as being characterized by male philopatry and female dispersal, with these patterns reflected in stronger affiliative and cooperative relationships among males than among females. Recent findings, however, indicate that male–male relationships may not be as uniformly strong as previously thought, which suggests that male philopatry in spider monkeys may not be universal. Here, we report the first confirmed cases of male immigration and group takeover in spider monkeys. Data were collected on one community of Ateles geoffroyi in northwestern Costa Rica. Behavioral and demographic data were recorded during subgroup follows across 6.5 years, and fecal samples of community members were collected for genetic analysis of relatedness. We documented two separate cases of immigration involving multiple males, which resulted in take-over of the study community by extra-community males and the concomitant disappearance of the resident males. In the study community, males were no more closely related to one another, on average, than females were, contrary to what would be expected if males were the more philopatric sex. Comparison of corrected assignment indices for males and females also revealed no evidence of sex-biased dispersal. Our findings suggest that in spider monkeys male immigration may occur under certain demographic circumstances, contributing to a view of greater flexibility in their social system than previously appreciated. This discovery has implications for other species that are typically characterized by male philopatry. Am J Phys Anthropol 152:86–95, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.