Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 213–220

The evolution of non-maternal caretaking among anthropoid primates: do helpers help?

  • John C. Mitani
  • David Watts

DOI: 10.1007/s002650050335

Cite this article as:
Mitani, J. & Watts, D. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1997) 40: 213. doi:10.1007/s002650050335


Non-maternal infant care among nonhuman primates has frequently been investigated from the perspective of the caretaker. Here we examine whether allocaretaking behavior provides direct reproductive benefits to mothers. Comparative analyses that control for the effects of allometry and phylogeny reveal that allocaretaking behavior correlates with relatively fast infant growth and reproduction, but is not associated with the production of large infants. These results are consistent with those from studies of other taxa; primate helpers appear to increase the reproductive success of female breeders. In addition, our findings contrast with those derived from traditional allometric analyses and underscore the importance of controlling for the potentially confounding effects of phylogeny in comparative analyses.

Key words Alloparental behavior   Primates    Comparative methods 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Mitani
    • 1
  • David Watts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA Fax: 203-432-3669; e-mail: dwatts@minerva.cis.yale.eduUS

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