, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 211–220 | Cite as

A comparison of adult body size between captive and wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) on the island of St. Kitts

  • Trudy R. Turner
  • Jennifer Danzy Cramer
  • Alexis Nisbett
  • J. Patrick Gray
Original Article


Weight and 34 morphological measurements were obtained from 103 vervet monkeys living either in the wild or in captive colonies derived from the wild populations on the island of St. Kitts in the Eastern Caribbean. All measures were taken during the same week, eliminating bias that might result from changing seasonal environmental conditions. Vervets on St. Kitts are all descended from a small number of individuals brought to the island approximately 400 years ago from West Africa, thus eliminating bias that might result from subspecific size differences. We conducted a principal components analysis (PCA) and compared individual traits between captive and wild adult animals. Morphological measures such as body, arm, and leg length did not differ significantly between animals living in the wild and animals in captivity. Weight and measures indicating condition-including body mass index (BMI), chest, thigh, and upper arm girth were all higher for animals living in captivity. More consistent available food is probably the cause of differences in measures reflecting condition.


Vervet monkey Adult body size Captive Wild 



We are very grateful to Dr. Eugene Redmond and the staff of the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation who worked with us while we were conducting this research. We acknowledge with gratitude the help of and discussion with Dr. Rafael Rodriguez of the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. We are also grateful to Yoon Jung, project manager for this collection. The comments of anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged. This research was Funded by NIH RR016300/OD010980 to Dr. Nelson Freimer, UCLA.

Compliance with ethical standards

All applicable international, national, and/or institution guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. Protocols were approved by the Animal Research Committee at UCLA; Protocol 2009-053-02A and the IACUC of the St. Kitts Research Foundation.


  1. Altmann J, Altmann SA, Hausfater G (1981) Physical maturity and age estimates of yellow baboons, Papio cynocephalus, in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Am J Primatol 1:389–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altmann J, Schoeller D, Altmann SA, Muruthi P, Sapolsky RM (1993) Body size and fatness of free-living baboons reflect food availability and activity levels. Am J Primatol 30:149–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bloomquist GE, Turnquist JE (2011) Selection on adult female body size in rhesus macaques. J human Evol 60:677–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolter DR, Zihlman AL (2003) Morphometric analysis of growth and development in wild-collected vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops), with implications for growth patterns in Old World monkeys, apes and humans. J Zool Lond 260:99–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolter DR, Zihlman AL (2011) Brief communication: dental development timing in captive Pan paniscus with comparison to Pan troglodytes. Am J phys Anthrop 145:647–652CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bones and Behavior Working Group (2015) Accessed 14 Jan 2016
  7. Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Andelman SJ, Lee PC (1988) Reproductive success in vervet monkeys. In: Clutton Brock TH (ed.) Reproductive success: Studies of individual variation in contrasting breeding systems. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 384–402Google Scholar
  8. Cheverud JM, Wilson P, Dittus WPJ (1992) Primate population studies at Polonnaruwa. III. Somatometric growth in a natural population of toque macaques (Macaca sinica). J human Evol 23:51–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cramer JD, Gaetano TJ, Gray JP, Grobler JP, Lorenz J, Freimer N, Schmitt CA, Turner TR (2013) Variation in scrotal color among widely distributed vervet monkey populations (Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus and C. a. sabaeus). Am J Primatol 75:752–762CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dore KM (2013) An anthropological investigation of the dynamic human-vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) interface in St. Kitts, West Indies. Unpublished PhD dissertation, UWMGoogle Scholar
  11. Erwin F, Palmour R (2003) Primates for 20th century biomedicine: The St. Kitts vervet (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus SK). In (Anonymous) International perspectives for the future of non-human primate resources, April 17–19, 2002, Bogor, Indonesia. National Academic, Washington, pp 49–53Google Scholar
  12. Garcia C, Lee PC, Rosetts L (2009) Growth in colony living Anubis baboon infants and its relationship with maternal activity budgets and reproductive status. Am J phys Anthrop 138:123–135CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hamada Y, Udono T (2002) Longitudinal analysis of length growth in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Am J phys Anthrop 118:268–284CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Harvey NC, Clarke AS, Lindburg DG (1991) Brief communication: morphometric data for adult lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus). Am J phys Anthrop 85:233–236CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Husson F, Lě S, Pagès J (2011) Exploratory multivariate analysis by example using R. Chapman and Hall/CRC Press. LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Husson, F, Josse, J. Lě, S, Mazet, J (2015) FactoMineR: Multivariate Exploratory Data Analysis and Data Mining. R package version 1.29.
  17. Jasinska AJ, Schmitt CA, Service SK, Cantor RM, Dewar K, Jentsch JD, Kaplan JR, Turner TR, Warren WC, Weinstock GM, Woods RP, Freimer NB (2013) Systems biology of the vervet monkey. ILAR J 54:122–143CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Lě S, Josse J, Husson F (2008) FactoMineR: an R package for multivariate analysis. J Stat Soft.ware 25(1):1–18Google Scholar
  19. Phillips-Conroy JE, Jolly CJ (1988) Dental eruption schedules of wild and captive baboons. Am J Primatol 15:17–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pusey AE, Oehlert GW, Williams JM, Goodall J (2005) Influence of ecological and social factors on body mass of wild chimpanzees. Int J Primatol 26:3–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rodriguez R, Cramer JD, Schmitt CA, Gaetano TJ, Grobler JP, Freimer NB, Turner TR (2015) The static allometry of sexual and non-sexual traits in vervet monkeys. Biol J Linn Soc 114(3):527–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rutenberg GW, Coelho AM, Lewis DS, Carey KD, McGill HC (1987) Body composition in baboons: Evaluating a morphometric method. Am J Primatol 12:275–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sailer LD, Gaulin SJC, Boster JS, Kurland JA (1985) Measuring the relationship between dietary quality and body size in primates. Primates 26:14–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schoonaert K, D’Aout K, Aeerts P (2007) Morphometrics and inertial properties in the body segments of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). J Anat 210:518–531CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Setchell JM, Lee PC, Wickings J, Dixon AF (2001) Growth and ontogeny of sexual size dimorphism in the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx). Am J phys Anthrop 115:349–360CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Sigg H, Stolba A, Abegglen J-J, Dasser V (1982) Life history of hamadryas baboons: physical development, infant mortality, reproductive parameters and family relationships. Primates 23:473–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Strum SC (1991) Weight and age in wild olive baboons. Am J Primatol 25:219–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. R Core Team (2014) R: A language and environment for statistical computing R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna,
  29. Turner TR, Whitten PL, Jolly CJ, Else JE (1987) Pregnancy outcomes in free-ranging vervet monkeys: a preliminary report. Am J Primatol 12:197–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Turner TR, Anapol F, Jolly CJ (1997) Growth, development and sexual dimorphism in vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) at four sites in Kenya. Am J phys Anthrop 103:17–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Turner TR, Schmitt CA, Cramer JD, Lorenz J, Grobler JP, Freimer NB (2014) Comparative developmental morphology within the genus Chlorocebus. Am J phys Anthrop 153:S58Google Scholar
  32. Uehara S, Nishida T (1987) Body weights of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Am J phys Anthrop 72:315–321CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Zihlman AL, Bolter DR, Boesch C (2004) Skeletal and dental development in wild chimpanzees from Tai National Forest, Ivory Coast and Gombe Reserve, Tanzania. Am J phys Anthrop123 S38: 215Google Scholar
  34. Zihlman AL, Bolter DR, Boesch C (2007) Skeletal and dental growth and development in chimpanzees of the Tai National Park, Cote D’Ivoire. J Zool 273:63–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Sociology, Anthropology, and Women’s Studies ProgramAmerican Military University and American Public UniversityCharles TownUSA
  3. 3.St. Kitts Biomedical Research FoundationSt. KittsSaint Kitts and Nevis

Personalised recommendations