International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 433-455

First online:

Life History of Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni in the Kakamega Forest, Kenya

  • Marina CordsAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia UniversityNew York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology Email author 
  • , Shahrina ChowdhuryAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia UniversityNew York Consortium in Evolutionary PrimatologyDepartment of Anthropology, City University of New York Graduate Center

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Comparative data from wild populations are necessary to understand the evolution of primate life history strategies. We present demographic data from a 29-yr longitudinal study of 8 groups of individually recognized wild blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni). We provide estimates of life history variables and a life table for females. Most females had their first infant at 7 yr. The mean interbirth interval was 28 mo, and decreased from 31 to 18 mo if the first infant died within a year. Interbirth intervals did not differ according to infant sex, but females had longer intervals after their first vs. subsequent births. Infant mortality was 23% and did not differ strongly by sex or mother’s parity. Maximal female lifespan was 32.5–34.5 yr. Across the lifespan, both survivorship and fecundity showed typical primate patterns. Survivorship was lowest in infants, leveled off among juveniles, and then decreased gradually with increasing age in later life. Fecundity was highest among young females and decreased among older females. Births were seasonal, with 64% occurring within 3 mo at the end of the dry season and beginning of the wet season. Survival to 12 mo was higher for infants born during drier months. Birth season timing is plausibly related to thermoregulation of infants, weanling foods, or maternal energy demand. Blue monkeys are a forest-dependent species with a very slow life history and relatively low immature and adult mortality rates compared to closely related guenons living in open habitats. Even among cercopithecines as a whole, they appear to have an exceptionally slow life history relative to body size. Differences in life history “speed” between blue monkeys and their close relatives seem to be related to lower juvenile and adult mortality in forests relative to more open habitats.


age at first birth birth seasonality fast-slow continuum infant mortality interbirth interval life table survivorship