The behavior, ecology, and social evolution of New World monkey

Book chapter


Fernández-Duque, Eduardo, Di Fiore, Anthony and Huck, Maren 2012. The behavior, ecology, and social evolution of New World monkey. in: University of Chicago Press.
AuthorsFernández-Duque, Eduardo, Di Fiore, Anthony and Huck, Maren
Abstract

Compared with other primates, New World monkeys display relatively limited ecological variability. New World monkey anatomy and social systems, however, are extremely diverse. Several unique morphological features (e.g., claws, prehensile tails) and uncommon patterns of social organization (e.g., paternal care, cooperative breeding, female dispersal) have evolved in some platyrrhine species. Social organization and mating patterns include typical harem- like structures where mating is largely polygynous, and large multimale, multifemale groups with promiscuous mating and fi ssion- fusion societies. In addition, some species are socially monogamous and polyandrous. Even closely related species may exhibit strikingly different social organizations, as the example of the squirrel monkeys demonstrates (Mitchell et al. 1991; Boinski et al. 2005b). New World monkey behavior varies within species as well as between them. While the behavior of many species is known from only one study site, intriguing patterns of intraspecific variation are beginning to emerge from observations of populations that sometimes live in close proximity. For example, spider monkeys are often described as showing sex- segregated ranging behavior. Several studies show that males range farther, travel faster, and use larger areas than females, who tend to restrict their habitual ranging to smaller core areas within a group’s large territory (Symington 1988; Chapman 1990; Shimooka 2005). In at least one well- studied population in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador, however, males and females both travel over the entire community home range, and different females within the community show little evidence of occupying distinct core areas (Spehar et al. 2010). Similarly, in most well- studied populations of spider monkeys, females disperse and the resident males within a group are presumed to be close relatives—a suggestion corroborated by genetic data for one local population of spider monkeys in Yasuní. Still, in a different local population, males are not closely related to one another, an unexpected pattern if signifi cant male philopatry were common (Di Fiore 2009; Di Fiore et al. 2009). While the causes of this local variation in group genetic structure are not clear, it may be signifi cant that the groups examined likely had different histories of contact with humans. For longlived animals who occupy relatively small social groups, the loss of even a handful of individuals to hunting, or to any other demographic disturbance, can have a dramatic impact on a group’s genetic structure. Intragroup social relationships, in turn, are likely to be infl uenced by patterns of intragroup relatedness and by the relative availability of social partners of different age or sex class (chapter 21, this volume). Thus, historical and demographic contingencies are likely to create conditions where considerable local, intrapopulation variation in social systems exists. Slight changes in ecological conditions may also contribute to variation in the behavior of individuals living in a single population over time. For example, some authors have hypothesized that howler monkey populations may undergo dramatic fluctuations in size and composition in response to several ecological factors, including resource abundance, parasite and predation pressure, and climate (Milton 1982; Crockett & Eisenberg 1986; Crockett 1996; Milton 1996; Rudran & Fernandez- Duque 2003). This variability, not only among populations, but also within populations across time highlights the need for long- term studies. In sum, our understanding of the behavior of New World monkeys has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. This understanding highlights how their behavior varies within populations over time and among populations or species across space. As our knowledge of platyrrhine behavior continues to unfold and is enriched via additional long- term studies, a central challenge will be to explain how these variations arise. It will be important to entertain adaptive explanations while acknowledging that some differences may emerge via stochastic changes in demography (Struhsaker 2008) or nongenetic, relatively short- term, nonadaptive responses to sudden ecological change.

Compared with other primates, New World monkeys display relatively limited ecological variability. New World monkey anatomy and social systems, however, are extremely diverse. Several unique morphological features (e.g., claws, prehensile tails) and uncommon patterns of social organization (e.g., paternal care, cooperative breeding, female dispersal) have evolved in some platyrrhine species. Social organization and mating patterns include typical harem- like structures where mating is largely polygynous, and large multimale, multifemale groups with promiscuous mating and fi ssion- fusion societies. In addition, some species are socially monogamous and polyandrous. Even closely related species may exhibit strikingly
different social organizations, as the example of the squirrel
monkeys demonstrates (Mitchell et al. 1991; Boinski et al. 2005b). New World monkey behavior varies within species as well as between them. While the behavior of many species is known from only one study site, intriguing patterns of intraspecific variation are beginning to emerge from observations
of populations that sometimes live in close proximity. For example, spider monkeys are often described as showing sex- segregated ranging behavior. Several studies show that males range farther, travel faster, and use larger areas than females, who tend to restrict their habitual ranging to smaller core areas within a group’s large territory (Symington 1988; Chapman 1990; Shimooka 2005). In at least one well- studied population in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador, however, males and females both travel over the entire community home range, and different females within the community show little evidence of occupying distinct core areas (Spehar et al. 2010). Similarly, in most well- studied populations of spider monkeys, females disperse and the resident males within a group are presumed to be close relatives—a suggestion corroborated by genetic data for one local population of spider monkeys in Yasuní. Still, in a different local population, males are not closely related to one another, an
unexpected pattern if signifi cant male philopatry were common
(Di Fiore 2009; Di Fiore et al. 2009). While the causes of this local variation in group genetic structure are not clear, it may be signifi cant that the groups examined likely had different histories of contact with humans. For longlived animals who occupy relatively small social groups, the loss of even a handful of individuals to hunting, or to any other demographic disturbance, can have a dramatic impact on a group’s genetic structure. Intragroup social relationships, in turn, are likely to be infl uenced by patterns of intragroup relatedness and by the relative availability of social partners of different age or sex class (chapter 21, this volume). Thus, historical and demographic contingencies are likely to create conditions where considerable local, intrapopulation variation in social systems exists.
Slight changes in ecological conditions may also contribute to variation in the behavior of individuals living in a single population over time. For example, some authors have hypothesized that howler monkey populations may undergo dramatic fluctuations in size and composition in response to several ecological factors, including resource abundance, parasite and predation pressure, and climate (Milton 1982; Crockett & Eisenberg 1986; Crockett 1996; Milton 1996; Rudran & Fernandez- Duque 2003). This variability, not only among populations, but also within
populations across time highlights the need for long- term studies. In sum, our understanding of the behavior of New World
monkeys has increased dramatically over the past 25 years.
This understanding highlights how their behavior varies within populations over time and among populations or species across space. As our knowledge of platyrrhine behavior continues to unfold and is enriched via additional long- term studies, a central challenge will be to explain how these variations arise. It will be important to entertain adaptive explanations while acknowledging that some differences may emerge via stochastic changes in demography (Struhsaker 2008) or nongenetic, relatively short- term, nonadaptive responses to sudden ecological change.

KeywordsNeotropical primates; diversity; phylogeny; evolution; social organisation
Year2012
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISBN9780226531724
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/610535
hdl:10545/610535
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Publication dates2012
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Deposited21 May 2016, 17:34
ContributorsDepartment of Anthropology , University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia, German Primate Centre, Department Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology and Department of Anthropology, University of Texas
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