Abstract # 13401 Poster # 149:

Scheduled for Friday, August 23, 2019 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Alumni Lounge) Poster Presentation


PREDICTORS OF INFANT SURVIVAL IN FREE-RANGING VERVET MONKEYS (CHLOROCEBUS PYGERYTHRUS) FROM A HIGH LATITUDE, SEMI-ARID ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA

S. E. Varsanyi1,2, S. Henzi1,2, L. Barrett1,2 and D. Forrester1
1Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 6T5, Canada, 2Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit, University of South Africa, Florida, South Africa
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     Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) are seasonal breeders that produce offspring during a circumscribed period each year. This gives rise to cohorts of infants who experience similar ecological conditions but differing social conditions, as the latter reflect their mothers’ reproductive history and position in the troop’s dominance hierarchy. In this study, we investigated the influence of maternal characteristics on infant survival to weaning age (7 months). We predicted that maternal rank and parity would have a significant positive effect on infant survival, where the offspring of higher-ranking and more experienced mothers would be more likely to survive. We also predicted that there would be a cohort effect, with year of birth exerting an influence on survival, due to different cohorts experience wide variation in ecological conditions. We recorded all births (n=110) from three free-ranging troops in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa across 4 birth seasons (October to December, 2013-2016). A Cox proportional-hazards regression revealed that maternal characteristics did not predict survival to weaning age (rank – Hazard Ratio: 1.01, p = 0.48; parity – Hazard Ratio: 1.12, p = 0.74). However, the year in which infants were born was a strong predictor of survival (Hazard Ratio: 41.45, p < 0.001). This suggests that ecological variables exert a stronger influence on infant survival in this population than particular maternal attributes.