The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Ecological influences on primate maternal investment strategies


1School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan, 2School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan, 3Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Friday 8:00-8:15, Galleria South Add to calendar

Relatively good data exist on primate maternal investment patterns (e.g., age at first birth, relative gestation length, neonate size, litter size, age at weanling, and weanling weight). All must be examined after controlling for adult female size, because size sets so much of the pace of life history. Some aspects appear to be largely phylogenetically determined, and as others have noted, family explains much of the variance. But ecological influences may influence variations within family. Here we examine variation in several maternal components, seeking ecological correlates. Preliminary analysis identifies a number of primates in which one or more maternal variables is a standard deviation or more from predicted values, and finds ecological correlates for some of these. We explore within-family variation in the three largest families (Cercopithidae, Cebidae, and Callitrichidae). Finally, we examine variation within the Homininae, and find that human traits are less unusual than previously thought.

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