International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 185–201

Locomotor behavior and feeding ecology of the panamanian tamarin (Saguinus oedipus geoffroyi, callitrichidae, primates)

  • Paul A. Garber

DOI: 10.1007/BF02735597

Cite this article as:
Garber, P.A. Int J Primatol (1980) 1: 185. doi:10.1007/BF02735597


The Callitrichidae are a family of New World primates that exhibit a complex of behavioral and morphological characters reputedly similar to those of tree squirrels of the genus Sciurus.In particular, the locomotor behavior of tamarins and marmosets has been described as “squirrel-like. ” In this paper I describe a field investigation of the locomotor behavior and ecology of the Panamanian tamarin (Saguinus oedipus geoffroyi)and the redtailed squirrel (Sciurus granatensis).From January through August 1978, a total of 1200 hr was spent observing freeranging populations of tamarins and tree squirrels in an area of secondary forest on the Pacific Coast of Panama. Observations were made using an instantaneous time sampling technique. Individual activity records were collected on focal animals and recorded at 2.5-min intervals throughout the day. The following information was collected: (a) nature and structure of the substrate exploited, (b) activities on these supports and/or types of resources procured, and (c) body posture involved in the use of these supports. Data presented indicate major differences in substrate preference and positional behavior in tamarins and tree squirrels. Unlike squirrels, tamarins avoid vertical and sharply inclined supports during travel. Movements through the canopy is accomplished by a series of long leaps which begin and end on thin terminal supports. However, the Panamanian tamarin spent numerous hours clinging to large vertical trunks while feeding on plant exudate. Gums comprise 23.O% of the noninsect portion of the tamarin diet. The relationships between small body size, claw-like nails, substrate preference, and positional behavior are discussed. Claw-like nails enable this primate to exploit a food resource that would otherwise be inaccessible. The interrelationship between environment, behaviour, and morphology provides a frameworks from which to understand callitrichid adaptations. These adaptations are not convergent with those of the sciurid rodents.

Key words

Callitrichidae locomotor behaviour tegulae gum feeding 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Garber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbana

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