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Infant Mortality in Black-and-Gold Howlers (Alouatta caraya) Living in a Flooded Forest in Northeastern Argentina

submitted by dittja 2 years and 1 month ago
Ecological and social factors have a significant effect on infant survivorship in nonhuman primates. We present 6293 group-months of infant birth and mortality data for 29 groups of Alouatta caraya inhabiting a flooded forest in northeastern Argentina, collected over 1.5–8 yr depending on the group. We tested whether infant mortality was a response to the effects of flooding on food availability and whether male takeovers resulted in greater opportunities for infanticide. During our study, 43 of 113 infants died at a mean age of 5 mo. In 24 cases the cause of death was unknown. In the remaining 19 cases infant deaths were attributed to periods of intense flooding (N = 8), replacement of the breeding male (N = 8), problems associated with birth (N = 2), and injuries during an intergroup encounter (N = 1). Flooding reduced the availability of mature leaves, which appeared to play an important role in the ability of mothers to nurse their offspring. Male replacements occurred in four social groups that contained only one fully adult male. Infant mortality was significantly higher in groups that experienced male replacement compared to groups without male replacement. These results indicate that infant mortality in Alouatta caraya is affected by several factors—natural disasters, maternal condition and food availability, infanticide after male replacement, and possibly disease and predation—each of which needs to be evaluated to understand the history and demography of this primate population.


Topic: Biology

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