The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Withdrawn. What facilitates facultative allomaternal care in red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer)? A preliminary investigation


1Anthropology, Hunter College of City University of New York, 2New York Consortium in Evolutionary Anthropology, (NYCEP), 3Centre ValBio, Ranomafana, Madagascar, 4Anthropology, University of Arizona

March 28, 2015 3:45, Grand Ballroom E/F/G Add to calendar

Allomaternal care (AMC), or infant care provided individuals other than the genetic mother, is prevalent throughout the Order, suggesting strong selection for this behavior early in primate evolution. Here, we report preliminary results from our study investigating the evolution of AMC in the red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer), a seasonal breeder with facultative AMC. Study groups (N=10) were followed from dawn-to-dusk during two consecutive birth years (August-April 2013; June-April 2014) at Vatoharanana in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. We used instantaneous group scans and continuous focal infant sampling to record data on activity budgets, infant care, and proximity to mother and infant. Behavioral landmarks of infant development were recorded ad libitum. Fecal samples from all subjects were used to estimate kinship and to monitor hormonal changes in AMC providers prior to and following parturition. Using nonparametric statistics, we evaluated how natural variation in AMC (i.e., presence/absence, rate, type) is associated with 1) the intrinsic qualities of helpers (sex, age, kinship); 2) litter size (singletons vs. twins); 3) hormonal changes (i.e., cortisol and androgens), and 4) infant survival. Results indicate that AMC varies among individuals, as well as across groups and years. Presumed fathers were the primary AMC providers (mean=95.2%), followed by juvenile females (mean=4.8%) and males (mean=0%). Litter size had no impact on AMC received; however, mothers whose infants received AMC differed significantly in their activity budgets from mothers who were the sole care providers (p<0.05). Pilot data linking kinship and hormones to variation in AMC will also be discussed.

Funding for this study was generously provided by The Leakey Foundation, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Rowe-Wright Primate Fund, Hunter College, and the University of Arizona.