Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 490–501

Growth rates in a wild primate population: ecological influences and maternal effects

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-004-0870-x

Cite this article as:
Altmann, J. & Alberts, S.C. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2005) 57: 490. doi:10.1007/s00265-004-0870-x


Growth rate is a life-history trait often linked to various fitness components, including survival, age of first reproduction, and fecundity. Here we present an analysis of growth-rate variability in a wild population of savannah baboons (Papio cynocephalus). We found that relative juvenile size was a stable individual trait during the juvenile period: individuals generally remained consistently large-for-age or small-for-age throughout development. Resource availability, which varied greatly in the study population (between completely wild-foraging and partially food-enhanced social groups), had major effects on growth. Sexual maturity was accelerated for animals in the food-enhanced foraging condition, and the extent and ontogeny of sexual dimorphism differed with resource availability. Maternal characteristics also had significant effects on growth. Under both foraging conditions, females of high dominance rank and multiparous females had relatively large-for-age juveniles. Large relative juvenile size predicted earlier age of sexual maturation for both males and females in the wild-feeding condition. This confirmed that maternal effects were pervasive and contributed to differences among individuals in fitness components.


GrowthPrimatesSexual dimorphismMaternal effectsFood availability

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Conservation Biology, Chicago Zoological SocietyBrookfield ZooBrookfieldUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Primate ResearchNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya