, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 183–196 | Cite as

Social behaviour and infant carrying in a group of moustached tamarins,Saguinus mystax (primates: Platyrrhini: Callitrichidae), on Padre Isla, Peruvian Amazonia

  • Eckhard W. Heymann


The social behaviour of a group of eight moustached tamarins,Saguinus mystax, (five males, three females) was studied on Padre Isla in northeastern Peru. About 60% of all allogrooming was done by the two adult males in the group, and about 11% by a young adult female. All other group members groomed very little. The adult breeding female received more grooming than any other group member. After the death of the adult female (preyed upon by an anaconda) the amount of active allogrooming remained constant for all group members except for the young adult female, who increased her contribution to about 30%. Her preferred grooming partner was the subadult female, which generally screamed when being groomed by the young adult female and terminated grooming by going away. This kind of grooming relation is termed “forced grooming” and is interpreted as a possible social control mechanism. The young adult female groomed the adult males more often after the death of the adult female than before. This might have had the function of strengthening the social bond with the adult males and in obtaining the breeding position in the group. After the death of the adult female, the vulva of the young adult female grew to full adult size. Agonistic behaviour was less frequent than allogrooming. Most aggressive interactions (50%) originated from the subadult male of the group. The young adult female was the target of most of these aggressions. Extremely little aggression occurred between the three females. The young adult female was the only individual who tried to emigrate from the group during the study period. Her attempt to join a neighbour group failed due to rejection by all four members of this group. All group members participated in carrying an infant, but the adult males and the young adult female carried most frequently. Contribution to infant carrying varied with the infant's age.

Key Words

Moustached tamarin Saguinus mystax Social behaviour Social grooming Infant carrying 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbott, D. H., 1987. Behaviourally mediated suppression of reproduction in female primates.J. Zool., Lond., 213: 455–470.Google Scholar
  2. Altmann, J., 1974. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods.Behaviour, 49: 227–267.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Box, H. O., 1978. Social behaviour in the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus).Biol. Human Affairs, 43: 51–64.Google Scholar
  4. Carroll, J. B., 1986. Social correlates of reproductive suppression in captive callitrichid family groups.Dodo, J. Jersey Wildl. Preserv. Trust, 23: 80–85.Google Scholar
  5. Cleveland J. &C. T. Snowdon, 1984. Social development during the first twenty weeks in the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus o. oedipus).Anim. Behav., 32: 432–444.Google Scholar
  6. Dawson, G. A., 1977. Composition and stability of social groups of the tamarin,Saguinus oedipus geoffroyi, in Panama: ecological and behavioral implications. In:The Biology and Conservation of the Callitrichidae,D. G. Kleiman (ed.), Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 23–37.Google Scholar
  7. Epple, G., 1975. The behavior of marmoset monkeys (Callitrichidae). In:Primate Behavior. Developments in Field and Laboratory Research, Vol. 4,L. A. Rosenblum (ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 195–239.Google Scholar
  8. ———— &Y. Katz, 1984. Social influences on estrogen excertion and ovarian cyclicity in saddle-back tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis).Amer. J. Primatol., 6: 215–227.Google Scholar
  9. Ferrari, S. F., 1987. Food transfer in a wild marmoset group.Folia Primatol., 48: 203–206.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. French, J. A., D. H. Abbott, &C. T. Snowdon, 1984. The effect of social environment on estrogen excretion, scent marking, and sociosexual behavior in tamarins (Saguinus oedipus).Amer. J. Primatol., 6: 155–167.Google Scholar
  11. Garber, P. A., L. Moya, &C. Malaga, 1984. A preliminary field study of the moustached tamarin monkey (Saguinus mystax) in northeastern Peru: questions concerned with the evolution of a communal breeding system.Folia Primatol., 42: 17–32.Google Scholar
  12. Goldizen, A. W., 1987. Tamarins and marmosets: communal care of offspring. In:Primate Societies,B. B. Smuts,D. L. Cheney,R. M. Seyfarth,R. W. Wrangham, &T. T. Struhsaker (eds.), Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 34–43.Google Scholar
  13. ———— &J. Terborgh, 1986. Cooperative polyandry and helping behavior in saddle-backed tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis). In:Primate Ecology and Conservation,J. G. Else &P. C. Lee (eds.), Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, pp. 191–198.Google Scholar
  14. Goosen, C., 1986. Social grooming in primates. In:Comparative Primate Biology, Vol. 2B: Behavior, Cognition, and Motivation,G. Mitchell &J. Erwin (eds.), Alan R. Liss, New York, pp. 107–131.Google Scholar
  15. Heymann, E. W., 1987. A field observation of predation on a moustached tamarin (Saguinus mystax) by an anaconda.Int. J. Primatol., 8: 193–195.Google Scholar
  16. ---- &L. A. Sicchar V., in press. Estudio etológico del pichico barba blanca,Saguinus mystax mystax y del pichio común,Saguinus fuscicollis nigrifrons (Primates: Callitrichidae) en un galpón al aire libre—resultados preliminares. In:Primatología en el Perú: Investigación, Manejo y Conservación, PAHO, Washington.Google Scholar
  17. Hinde, R. A., 1983. Description of and proximate factors influencing social structure. In:Primate Social Relationships. An Integrated Approach,R. A. Hinde (ed.), Blackwell Scientific Pub., Oxford, pp. 176–182.Google Scholar
  18. Katz, Y. & G. Epple, 1979. The coming of age in femaleSaguinus (marmoset monkeys).Abstracts of the 61st Meeting of the Endocrine Society, No. 743.Google Scholar
  19. Kleiman, D. G., 1979. Parent-offspring conflict and sibling competition in a monogamous primate.Amer. Naturalist, 114: 753–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McGrew, W. C. &E. C. McLuckie, 1986. Philopatry and dispersion in the cotton-top tamarin,Saguinus (o.) oedipus: an attempted laboratory simulation.Int. J. Primatol., 7: 401–422.Google Scholar
  21. Moya, L., C. Ique, & P. Soini, 1988. Repopulation and management ofSaguinus mystax (Callitrichidae, Primates) at Padre Isla forest in Amazon river from Peru.The 7th Congress of the International Primatological Society, Abstracts Supplement, p. 28.Google Scholar
  22. Neyman, P. F., 1977. Aspects of the ecology and social organization of free-ranging cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) and the conservation status of the species. In:The Biology and Conservation of the Callitrichidae,D. G. Kleiman (ed.), Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 39–71.Google Scholar
  23. Savage, A., T. E. Ziegler, &C. T. Snowdon, 1988. Sociosexual development, pair bond formation, and mechanisms of fertility suppression in female cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus oedipus).Amer. J. Primatol., 14: 345–359.Google Scholar
  24. Sussman R. W. &P. A. Garber, 1987. A new interpretation of social organization and mating system of the Callitrichidae.Int. J. Primatol., 8: 73–92.Google Scholar
  25. Tardif, S. D., 1984. Social influences on sexual maturation of femaleSaguinus oedipus oedipus.Amer. J. Primatol., 6: 199–209.Google Scholar
  26. ———— &C. B. Richter, 1981. Competition for a desired food in family groups of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus).Lab. Anim. Sci., 31: 52–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Terborgh, J. &A. W. Goldizen, 1985. On the mating system of the cooperatively breeding saddle-backed tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis).Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 16: 293–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eckhard W. Heymann
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches PrimatenzentrumGöttingenGermany

Personalised recommendations