Department of Anthropology

Anthony Di Fiore Published by American Journal of Primatology

Thu, July 26, 2018
Anthony Di Fiore Published by American Journal of Primatology

Department Chair and Professor Anthony Di Fiore co-authored a research article about the demography and life history of a group of white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) in western Amazonia, which was published by the American Journal of Primatology.

Abstract: Species‐specific demographic parameters and life history variables are important for understanding how individual primate taxa have adapted to evolutionary and ecological pressures and for conducting interspecific comparisons as well as for conducting population viability analyses and for managing captive populations. Here, we describe results from a 12+ year study of the demographic dynamics of a wild group of white‐bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) living near the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in a largely pristine rainforest in western Amazonia. Across the study period, group size varied between 25 and 37 individuals, and there was a clearly female‐biased sex ratio within all age classes. Females were the dispersing sex, as 19 females born into the group disappeared close to reaching adult body size and were presumed to have emigrated, while seven subadult or adult females joined the group during the study period. We estimated the age of dispersal for females at 5.9 ± SD 0.4 years (N = 13). Our study confirms that males are the philopatric sex, as all natal males have remained in the group and some have begun to reproduce, while no males have immigrated. Males began ranging independently from their mothers at ∼4.5 years of age and began copulating with adult females by the age of ∼5 years. Females had long inter‐birth intervals (44.2 ± SD 7.8 months; range: 32–64 months, N = 21). Based on our data, female spider monkeys might have longer life spans than males, as only one out of six adult males but 9 out of 11 adult females present in the group in mid 2005 were still present in January 2018. The slow development and extended life histories of wild spider monkeys pose significant challenges for the ability of these primates to cope with habitat degradation and hunting throughout their geographical distribution.

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