Department of Anthropology

Behavioral Ecology and Social Structure of Spider Monkeys: Insights from Long-Term Field Work and Genetic Studies

Thu, April 16, 2009 | EPS 1.128

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Spider monkeys are one of the most widely distributed genera of neotropical primates and, over the past 25 years, have been the subjects of numerous long-term field studies. I will discuss what we’ve learned about the ecology and behavioral biology of spider monkeys from this accumulated research, focusing on work at my long-term study site in lowland Ecuador. I will also present the results of recent molecular work on my study population designed to shed light on aspects of spider monkey biology that are difficult to evaluate through observational studies alone, namely intragroup genetic relatedness, dispersal patterns, and patterns of male reproductive success. Throughout the talk, I will highlight the remarkable convergence between spider monkeys and another large-bodied, long lived frugivorous primate -- the chimpanzee -- in aspects of behavior, ecology, and population genetic structure and highlight the utility of spider monkeys as an ecological model for understanding the evolution of hominoids.

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