, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 103–112 | Cite as

Social monogamy, male–female relationships, and biparental care in wild titi monkeys (Callicebus discolor)

  • Andrea Spence-Aizenberg
  • Anthony Di Fiore
  • Eduardo Fernandez-Duque
Original Article


Titi monkeys (Callicebus spp.) are one of two primate genera that live almost exclusively in groups with one adult-size individual of each sex and exhibit extensive biparental care of offspring. We provide a quantitative description of infant care and pairmate behavior in natural groups of Callicebus discolor that contributes to a limited literature on the behavioral ecology of wild titi monkeys. We collected data during a 3-year period from two social groups living in primary tropical rainforest at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Amazonian Ecuador before and after the birth of five infants. In order to evaluate the potential social and energetic costs associated with biparental care of offspring, we examined the relationships between infant care, pairmate behavior, and adult activity budgets. We found that males were almost exclusively responsible for transporting, grooming, sharing food, and playing with infants. As predicted, we found that, following the birth of an infant, adults groomed their partners less, spent less time in contact, and that huddling between pairmates decreased. Contrary to our predictions, after the birth of an infant, females did not increase the time spent feeding, and males did not decrease the time spent moving nor increase their resting time. Overall, our data suggest that the pair may experience social costs during times of intense infant care but that any putative energetic costs associated with infant care are not mitigated by adjusting physical activity. Future studies should investigate energy intake and expenditure, and consider how the variation observed in pairmate social relationships may affect reproductive success.


Male care Monogamy Infant care Social behavior Pair bond 



We thank the Ecuadorian officials of the Ministerio de Ambiente and Dr. Kelly Swing, Dr. David Romo, Consuelo Romo, and Diego Mosquera of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito for scientific and logistical support. We also thank each of the volunteers and students who made this research possible by spending long hours in the forest, and to all the ‘tigres’ of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station. Special thanks are due to Gaby de Luna and Maren Huck for assistance in data processing and to R. Seyfarth, P. Garber, J. Mitani, and several anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This study was made possible by funding to AD and EFD from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the National Geographic Society, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, New York University, the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, and the University of Pennsylvania.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Spence-Aizenberg
    • 1
  • Anthony Di Fiore
    • 2
  • Eduardo Fernandez-Duque
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral, ConicetCorrientesArgentina
  5. 5.Facultad de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de FormosaFormosaArgentina

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