International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 739–760 | Cite as

Longitudinal patterns of reproduction in wild female siamang (Hylobates syndactylus) and white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar)

  • Ryne A. Palombit
Article

Abstract

I present the 6- year reproductive histories of three wild female siamang (Hylobates syndactylus)and four white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar)at the Ketambe Research Station (Sumatra, Indonesia). Reproductive output varied considerably among females. Two females failed to gestate: both were nulliparous young adult H. lar,one of which remained unpaired for 4 years after dispersing from her group, while the other lost her recently acquired mate to another female. Only one- (a white-handed gibbon)- gave birth more than once, yielding interbirth intervals of 22 and 31 months. Pair bond stability or reduced interspecific feeding competition or both factors may have contributed to the brevity of these intervals. The other females- one H. lar,and three H. syndactylus-each gave birth once, suggesting minimum interbirth intervals exceeding 4–5 years (H. lar)and 3 years (H. syndactylus)in these individuals. Even given the pronounced variation observed among H. lar,these data suggest that interbirth intervals may often exceed the 2- to 3- year interval commonly attributed to these two species. Sources of reproductive failure were 1) maternal abandonment of the neonate due to impaired ability to provide maternal care (H. syndactylus,),(2) premature or stillbirth (H. syndactylus,),and (3) pregnancy termination (H. lar).These data and a review of information on longevity and age at menarche suggest that the actual lifetime reproductive output of a siamang or white-handed gibbon female may often fall far short of the 10 offspring/lifetime originally proposed for these species. Indeed, females may rear as few as five offspring to weaning in a lifetime, which is a figure reminiscent of the reproductive potential of some pongids. Finally, variance in female reproductive success is higher than expected in these monogamous species, which suggests that females (and males) are under strong selective pressure to exert mate choice, possibly through acquisition of (new) mates and extrapair copulations. Future research must clarify the availability of opportunities for paired adults to engage in these sociosexual behaviors.

Key Words

Hylobates syndactylus Hylobates lar reproduction monogamy 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryne A. Palombit
    • 1
  1. 1.Animal Behavior GroupUniversity of CaliforniaDavis, Davis

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