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Keywords:

  • body postures;
  • Callicebus nigrifrons ;
  • microhabitat selection;
  • temperature;
  • titi monkeys

Abstract

The maintenance of body temperature in endothermic animals imposes considerable metabolic costs that vary with air temperature fluctuations. To minimise these costs, endotherms can adopt certain behaviours to adjust the pattern of heat transfer between their bodies and the environment. In this study, we evaluated whether a small Neotropical primate, the black-fronted titi monkey (Callicebus nigrifrons), living in a seasonal environment can use behavioural mechanisms to cope with fluctuations in the air temperature. We monitored the air temperature and the titi monkeys’ behaviour over 1 yr. When the animals were inactive, we recorded the microhabitat used, the huddling between individuals and the body postures adopted. The monkeys primarily responded to air temperature fluctuations through microhabitat selection: they spent more time in sunny places and used higher strata of forest under lower temperatures. Moreover, they used sunny microhabitats during the first hour of their active period after colder nights. The monkeys did not huddle or change body postures in response to air temperature fluctuations. Huddling behaviour seemed to be primarily influenced by social interactions, and body postures were more energy conserving, regardless of temperature. Titi monkeys, however, used more energy-conserving postures and huddling behaviour under cloudy conditions than sunny conditions, suggesting that these behaviours may be important when they are unable to thermoregulate by microhabitat selection. We concluded that fluctuations in air temperature can promote significant changes in the behaviour of titi monkeys and can impose important restrictions on mammals’ activities, even in tropical regions.