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American Journal of Primatology

Long-term data on reproductive output and longevity in captive female common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

Authors

  • Hayley Ash,

    1. Behaviour and Evolution Research Group and Scottish Primate Research Group, Psychology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland
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  • Hannah M. Buchanan-Smith

    Corresponding author
    1. Behaviour and Evolution Research Group and Scottish Primate Research Group, Psychology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland
    • Correspondence to: Hannah Buchanan-Smith, Psychology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland. E-mail: h.m.buchanan-smith@stir.ac.uk

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  • Conflict of interest: The authors of this manuscript have no conflict of interest that would inappropriately bias this research.

Abstract

The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is widely used in biomedical research, with many housed for breeding purposes world-wide. Significant variation in reproductive output among females has been found compared to other anthropoid primates. The present study explores this reproductive variation, focusing on potential predictors of dam longevity and litter size, as well as changes over time. Back-record analysis was conducted, yielding litter information and reproductive summaries of 360 dams housed at three UK marmoset colonies over four decades (1970s–2000s). Results revealed differences among the colonies, as well as within colonies over decades, suggesting environment may play an important role. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses revealed significant effects of mean litter size and yearly production on dam longevity. Decade, mean inter-birth interval and mean dam weight were found to be significant factors explaining dam longevity when looking at colonies individually. The most commonly recorded cause of death was “poor condition.” Linear regression models found that no reproductive variable was useful in explaining mean litter size, except dam weight at conception, data which was only consistently recorded at one colony. While triplets were common at all three colonies, these larger litters were consistently associated with higher infant mortality, despite human intervention to improve survival. This study increases our understanding of marmoset reproduction, and possible improvements to practical aspects of colony management to enhance survival and welfare are discussed. Am. J. Primatol. 76:1062–1073, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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