, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 281-290
Date: 29 Apr 2003

Life-history parameters of a wild group of West African patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas patas)

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Abstract

Based on long-term, although intermittent, observations (2 years 4 months of 14 years), we present data on birth seasonality, age at first birth, interbirth intervals, mortality rates, age at first emigration, and population change of a wild population of West African patas monkeys (Etythrocebus patas patas) in northern Cameroon. Birth season was from the end of December until the middle of February, corresponding to the mid-dry season. In spite of large body size, the patas females had the earliest age at first birth (36.5 monthsold) and the shortest interbirth intervals (12 months) compared to the closely related wild forest guenons. Age at first emigration of the males was considered to occur between 2.5 and 4.5 years. The group size of the focal group drastically decreased between 1984 and 1987, and steadily increased until 1994, then decreased again in 1997. The neighboring group also showed a similar trend in group size. The population decreases were likely to be caused by drought over 3 years. Annual crude adult mortality rate was 4% during population increase periods (PIP) between 1987 and 1994. It rose to 22% during all the periods (AP), including drought over 3 years. Despite their smaller body size, the rate of the wild forest guenons (Cercopithecus mitis) (4%) was the same and much lower than those of the patas during PIP and AP, respectively. The annual average juvenile mortality rate was 13% during PIP and it also rose to 37% during AP. That of wild forest guenons (C. ascanius) (10–12%) was a little lower and much lower than those of the patas during PIP and AP, respectively. These findings were consistent with Charnov's theoretical model of mammalian life-history evolution in that patas with high adult and juvenile mortality showed early and frequent reproduction in spite of large body size. Charnov also considered high adult mortality as a selective force and high juvenile mortality as a density-dependent consequence of high fecundity. Our results support the former but not the latter research findings.