Abstract # 149:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 04:30 PM-04:45 PM: Session 21 (Meeting Room 408) Oral Presentation


IS INFANT HANDLING A MECHANISM FOR MALE BOND FORMATION IN ATELES GEOFFROYI?

K. J. Evans1, M. S. Pavelka1, K. S. Hartwell1 and H. Notman2
1University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada, 2Athabasca University
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     Primate males typically tolerate infants but, with the exception of some species, do not actively seek interactions with them. In male-philopatric species, such as spider monkeys, males demonstrate high levels of cooperation and affiliation with others in the community. The male bonding hypothesis suggests that males may handle male infants in order to create bonds with potential future allies. Based on this we predicted that adult male spider monkeys would participate in infant handling more than females and direct handling mostly toward male infants. To test this we collected all occurrence data of infant handling from a community of 35 individually recognized wild spider monkeys (A. geoffroyi) in Belize, Central America between January 2008 and July 2010. In 884 hours of observation, 102 incidences of infant handling were observed. Behaviours observed in infant handling were: sniff, touch, groom, inspect, embrace, social play, carry, hold, and chest present. All male [N=5] and female [N=7] infants were handled during the study, and all adult males handled infants [N=9/9] but only 7/17 females did so. Males handled infants significantly more often than females [X2=24.510, df=1, p=<0.001] and male infants were handled significantly more than females [X2=5.263, df=1, p=<0.05]. Female infants were handled mostly when they were under 6 months of age [X2=10.7038. df=1. P=<0.010]. These results support the male bonding hypothesis for infant handling in wild spider monkeys.