Field observations on scent-marking behaviour in saddle-back tamarins, Saguinus fuscicollis (Callitrichidae, Primates)

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Abstract

The scent-marking behaviour of a group of six saddle-back tamarins, Saguinus fuscicollis nigrifrons, was studied in the Amazon rain forest of north-eastern Peru. Three types of scent marking were recognized: anogenital marking, suprapubic marking and sternal marking. Anogenital marking was the most frequent type. Two or more scent-marking acts of the same or different type were generally combined into sequences. Most scent-marking was performed on branches and lianas; trunks were infrequently used. The tamarins mainly marked on horizontal or inclined substrata with diameters between 3 and 10 cm and a height between I and 10 m. The temporal distribution of scent-marking exhibited a maximum in the early morning between 06:00 and 07:00h and a minimum between 16:00 and 17:00h. The majority of scent-marking occurred in the peripheral areas of the home-range. The spatial distribution of scent-marking was correlated with the intensity of home-range use. No elevated frequencies of scent-marking were observed during intergroup encounters. The results of this field study are compared with findings from laboratory studies, and hypotheses concerning the function of scent-marking are discussed.

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