, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 131–139 | Cite as

Costs of twins in free-ranging white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) at Tinigua National Park, Colombia

  • Andres Link
  • Ana Cristina Palma
  • Adriana Velez
  • Ana Gabriela de Luna
Original Article


A female spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) that gave birth to twins was studied during 13 months, and her activity budget and diet were compared to those of females with single offspring and females with no offspring to assess selective pressures that could influence litter size. We recorded qualitative information on the development and social interactions of the twins and three other single infants. Emi, the female that had the twins, had the highest proportion of resting time and the lowest proportion of feeding and moving time compared to other adult females and males. Emi also had the lowest average daily travel distance and relied more heavily on flowers and leaves than other group members who included a higher proportion of fruits in their diets. These results suggest that twins are energetically costly to spider monkeys because of the direct energy allocated into raising and carrying the twins and, also, because these costs have direct effects in the ability of a mother to obtain high-quality resources (e.g., fruits). The twins had a slower rate of physical and social development as well as a smaller body size compared to same-aged singletons by the end of the study. Thus, the extended periods of maternal care and the costs associated with rearing and carrying offspring are some of the factors that influence the evolution and maintenance of a litter size of one in most anthropoid primates.


Ateles belzebuth Carrying costs Reproduction costs Spider monkeys Tinigua national park Twins 



We thank Dr. Kosei Izawa for motivating and supporting part of this study and providing helpful information on the study groups’ composition and demography. We thank the valuable collaboration and dedicated work of Javier Cajiao. Yukiko Shimooka and Beatriz Ramirez provided helpful assistance in the field. Colin Chapman, Christina Campbell, Pablo Stevenson, Anthony Di Fiore, Luke Mathews, Rachel Dvoskin, and an anonymous reviewer made helpful comments to the manuscript. Pablo Stevenson provided us his phenological data from previous years and gave helpful advice for this study. We thank the ‘Vereda el Tapir’ for kindly receiving us and, in particular, Ramiro Montealegre, Alvaro Sanabria, and Nelson Silva who helped us directly at the study station. The Colombo-Japan agreement through Dr. Kosei Izawa,Carlos Mejia, Akisato Nishimura, and Koshin Kimura has allocated enormous efforts and support to promote research at the CIEM. U.E.S.P.N.N. and the staff from Tinigua National Park provided us with permits and logistical support.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andres Link
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ana Cristina Palma
    • 1
    • 3
  • Adriana Velez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ana Gabriela de Luna
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas, La Macarena (CIEM)La MacarenaColombia
  2. 2.New York University (NYU) and New York Consortium for Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP)New YorkUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad de Los AndesBogotaColombia

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