Abstract # 22:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2008 03:35 PM-03:50 PM: Session 3 (Meeting Room 2DEF) Symposium

Nursing behavior in a group of human-commensal white-fronted capuchins (Cebus albifrons) in Misahualli, Ecuador

M. Y. Field
The Ohio State University, Dept. of Anthropology, 244 Lord Hall, 124 W. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA
     The purpose of this study was to examine how nursing behavior in a group of Cebus albifrons compares to that of other Cebus species. Nursing data were collected on a group of free ranging, human-commensal white-fronted capuchin monkeys (Cebus albifrons) in the town of Misahuallí, Ecuador (N=16, infants=3). Data collection involved 30-minute scan sampling and ad libitum observations from April to December 2006 (N=125 nursing bouts). Of the three main nursing characteristics previously noted in other Cebus species: 1) nursing by older juvenile offspring was rare in the study group (n=5), 2) “parasitic” nursing by older non-offspring was also rare (n=5: all subadult males), and 3) allonursing was never seen. A notable characteristic of nursing in this group that has not previously been reported for Cebus was the prevalence of manual breast tissue stimulation by the infant immediately prior to and/or during the nursing bout (4% before, 63% during, and 8% before and during), presumably to elicit the milk ejection reflex. These results indicate that nursing behavior in C. albifrons differs from that reported for other Cebus species, thus challenging the concept of genus typical nursing patterns in Cebus spp.