, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 279–284 | Cite as

Observed infanticides following a male immigration event in black howler monkeys, Alouatta pigra, at Palenque National Park, Mexico

  • Sarie Van BelleEmail author
  • Aimee E. Kulp
  • Robyn Thiessen-Bock
  • Marisol Garcia
  • Alejandro Estrada
News and Perspectives


This study describes two cases of directly observed and one case of nearly observed infanticide after an adult male immigrated into a multimale–multifemale group of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) at Palenque National Park, Mexico. The immigrant male entered the group alone, injured the central adult male, presumably evicted the noncentral adult male, and killed all three young infants present over the course of three consecutive days in February 2010. Three weeks after the infanticide events, the three adult females who lost their infants were observed to sexually solicit and copulate with both the infanticidal male and the injured central male. Multimale mating is an effective reproductive strategy that females employ to confuse paternity and reduce the risk of infanticide, but the extent to which promiscuous mating after infanticide events is part of a counterstrategy in this species is still unknown. More cases of infanticide will need to be observed to assess the degree to which infanticide avoidance shapes the social system of the black howler monkey.


Infanticide Black howler monkey (Alouatta pigraReproductive strategies Male immigration 



We thank the Mexican government (CONANP) for granting AE the permission to perform research at Palenque National Park. We also thank Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) for logistic, administrative, and financial support. David Muñoz kindly provided the picture taken during the third infanticide event (Fig. 1c). Dr. Eckhard Heymann and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarie Van Belle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aimee E. Kulp
    • 2
  • Robyn Thiessen-Bock
    • 2
  • Marisol Garcia
    • 2
  • Alejandro Estrada
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Estación de Biología Tropical Los Tuxtlas, Instituto de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMéxico

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