, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 83–90 | Cite as

Seasonal variation in association patterns of wild spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) at La Macarena, Colombia

  • Yukiko ShimookaEmail author
Original Article


Spider monkeys exhibit a fission–fusion type of social organization. I studied party size and party composition in wild long-haired spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) in three study periods at La Macarena, Colombia and found that overall party size was larger in the fruit-abundant season. Mean party size in which males were observed was relatively stable across seasons. In contrast, the mean party size of females varied. Females were observed in larger parties in the fruit-abundant season than in the fruit-scarce season. Moreover, whereas males associated with each other at an almost equal frequency across seasons, females associated with each other more frequently in the fruit-abundant season. Females with infants or small juveniles were more often in association with other individuals than were cycling females. The intensity of individual relationships varied according to season, such that even mothers and sons were not always strongly associated. In a large party, females with infants may gain from predation avoidance but they are at a disadvantage in terms of scramble competition. The balance between these factors may change with fruit availability and may influence party size in different periods. For males, party formation may facilitate the defense of resources from neighboring groups more than provide predation avoidance.


Spider monkeys Ateles belzebuth Fission–fusion Association index Seasonality 



This study was supported by the COE program promoted by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture, JAPAN and by a Grant-in Aid from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture, International Scientific Research (Field Research) No.09041144 as a cooperative research project between Colombia and Japan. I am grateful to the Colombia–Japan primate research project members: Dr. Kosei Izawa, Dr. Carlos Mejia, Dr. Akisato Nishimura, Dr. Koshin Kimura, Ms. Agumi Inaba, Mr. Andres Link, and especially Dr. Pablo Stevenson who provided me with phenological data. Mr. Alvaro Sanabria P. and Mr. Nelson Silva greatly assisted me in the field. I also thank the Ministry of Environment of the Colombian Government for granting permission to undertake the investigation in Macarena-Tinigua National Park. I am grateful to Dr. Hideki Sugiura and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and I thank members of the Department of Ecology and Social Behavior and the Field Research Center of the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University as well as members of the Research Group for Tropical Forest Primates for ever-fruitful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Social Behavior, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyama 484-8506Japan

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