, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 383-400

Birth Seasonality in Alouatta caraya in Northern Argentina

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Abstract

Given appropriate ecological and social conditions, natural selection should favor individuals that can concentrate their reproductive events to a particular time of the year that offers high opportunities for infant survivorship. Previous studies on births in Alouatta caraya in Northern Argentina revealed the existence of a peak during the dry season—a period with scarcity of food resources—in mainland gallery forest (G. E. Zunino, Extra 133: 1–10, 1996). The time of conception and the period of independence of the offspring are positively correlated with precipitation, temperature and availability of food. Offspring became independent from their mothers when the availability of resources was high, and conception coincided with the peak of fruit production. Our goal was to examine patterns of birth seasonality in Alouatta caraya in flooded forest on an island in Northern Argentina for comparison with the mainland population. Both sites are at similar latitudes, but differ in forest type. The results indicate that the availability of new and mature leaves is more consistent throughout the year in the flooded forest (p<0.05); however, there was no difference in the availability of fleshy fruits between sites (p>0.05). The pattern of births differed between the gallery forest and the flooded forest (2-way Anova, p<0.001). In the flooded forest births occurred throughout the year, which supports the contentions that howlers do not have a fixed birth season and that the observed variation in the timing of births appears to represent a facultative behavioral response to changes in food availability.