Body composition, age and fertility among free-ranging female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)


  • Funding: NCRR grant CM-5-P40RR003640-13 award to the Caribbean Primate Research Center.

Benjamin Campbell, Department of Anthropology, Boston University, 232 Baystate Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Tel.: 617-353-5028; fax: 617-353-2610; e-mail:


Abstract: The relationship of morphometric measures and birth status among 93 females on Cayo Santiago trapped during the 2001 and 2002 seasons was assessed. The proportion of females giving birth differed between the two seasons (0.58 vs. 0.38; P = 0.006) with a prominent decline among older females. Most morphometric measures increased from adolescent to adult groups, but bicep circumference showed a significant decrease among adults. When controlled for age differences, females with infants during the 2002 season exhibited greater bicep circumference, but no difference in abdominal fat than those without. Members of the socially dominant group did not have a higher rate of birth in either 2001 or 2002, despite being significantly longer and weighing more than those of the subordinate group. Abdominal skinfold and bicep circumference were significant predictors of birth status during the 2002 season, controlling for age group, social group membership, and parity in the previous year. Bicep circumference was also a significant predictor of birth status for the 2001 birth season. These findings suggest that individual variation in body composition among females of Cayo Santiago is associated with differences in fertility.