The author made an ecological study of the black-mantle tamarin (Saguinus nigricollis) in the primary forest in the basin of the River Caquetá in the upper Amazon in Colombia for 88 days during a study period from August 1975 to February 1976.
The tamarin group repeats three activity patterns — feeding, resting, and moving — regularly in a day. In their feeding activity, the tamarins preferred to eat small insect and resin. They showed a special liking for large grasshoppers, 6–8 cm long, and spent much of the day to capture them. Moving in search of the grasshoppers, which are hard to capture in the forest, is closely related to the tamarin group's daily nomadism. From this evidence it can be concluded that the behavior which forms the basis of the tamarins' daily activity is the hunting of grasshoppers.
In the transition time from the feeding activity, principally the hunting of grasshoppers, to the resting activity, a fruit eating behavior was always observed. At this time the tamarins ate well-ripened sweet fruit intensively for a short time. This behavior is thought to have the effect, in one respect, of easing strained relations arising among group members during the grasshopper hunting activity.
It was also observed that mother tamarins shared their hard-to-capture grasshoppers with their offspring although the latter had already become independent of their mothers.
In general, the tamarins lived in a small and compact group consisting of an adult male, an adult female, and their offspring. Some of these small groups had amicable interrelationships and often moved together, whereas other groups kept aloof from each other. These facts indicate that, besides the groups as the social units, large-groups comprising some of these unit groups moving together, exist in the social structure of the tamarins, and form the upper structure of the social unit.