, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 653-674
Date: 06 Jul 2006

Long-term Study of Group Dynamics and Female Reproduction in Venezuelan Pithecia pithecia

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White-faced sakis (Pithecia pithecia) are well known for their specialized feeding strategy and dependence on seed-eating, but we know less about social dynamics and reproduction. I summarize data from 1990 to 2001 on sakis inhabiting a small island in Lago Guri, Venezuela that includes changes in group composition, aggressive behavior, and female reproductive histories. Though the characteristic group size and typical mating system are still uncertain for wild, free-ranging Pithecia spp., size of the study group ranged from 2–3 adult females and 1–4 adult males. My group and I collected fecal samples from adult females, which we dried and assayed for estrogen (E1C) and progesterone (PdG) conjugates to document reproductive cycles and female development. During the study, as many as 3 females were either cycling or pregnant at the same time. Ten infants were born during the study, 4 of which survived to adulthood. Five interbirth intervals after weaning an infant ranged from 12 to 36 mo. Though researchers often assume Pithecia spp. are monogamous, multiple breeding females can coexist in groups without evidence of reproductive suppression. Within the pitheciine clade, Pithecia spp. exhibit a mosaic of behavioral and morphological traits intermediate between bearded sakis and uakaris on the one hand and their sister-group, the pair-bonded titis, on the other.