, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 305-314

Infant development and parental care in two species of sifakas

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of a three-month field study on parental care and infant development in the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema edwardsi) in the primary rain-forest of south-eastern Madagascar. They are compared with a three-and-a-half-month study of captive white sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi coquereli) in the Duke University Primate Centre. Records were taken by means of focal animal and instantaneous sampling. In both species the mother was the primary carrier and caretaker; theP. verreauxi father carried the infant significantly more than did any animal other than the mother in theP. diadema group. The infantP. verreauxi spent less time off the mother than didP. diadema from week 4 through week 10. It is concluded thatP. verreauxi shows more non-maternal care thanP. diadema and also develops at a slower rate. The difference in the two species' habitats is discussed as a possible cause.