Social Behavior of Callimicos: Mating Strategies and Infant Care

  • Leila M. Porter
  • Paul A. Garber
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Callimico (Callimico goeldii) is the only species of tamarin or marmoset to regularly produce one infant, possibly representing a derived trait. Studies of adult–infant interactions among callimicos, therefore, offer important insights into the evolution of cooperative infant care in callitrichids. We studied a group of callimicos consisting of one adult female (FH), two adult males (MR and MJ), and one young female (FS), at a Bolivian field site. Opportunistic data on infant care and mating behavior were taken for 3 months following FS’s birth. Then, for 8 months, behavioral data and nearest neighbor distances were collected using focal animal sampling for 1,199 observation hours. Nearest neighbor distances among group members varied significantly (p < 0.001): on average the breeding female was found 2.7 m from her infant, 2.8 m from adult male MJ, and 3.5 m from adult male MR. The frequency of grooming behaviors varied significantly among adults (p < 0.001): FH was groomed most (8.4% of observations) and spent the least time grooming others (3.4%), while MR was groomed least (5.9%) and groomed others most (10.7%). Although FH was observed mating with both males within 2 months after the birth of FS, she did not give birth to additional offspring. All adults shared food with and carried the infant. Adults also shared food with each other. Aggressive behavior among adults was extremely rare (n = 8) and occurred six times in a feeding context and twice in a non-feeding context. These data demonstrate that despite producing singletons, callimicos like many other callitrichids are characterized by a polyandrous mating pattern, spatially cohesive groups, and high levels of social cooperation.


Neighbor Distance Breeding Female Infant Care Dominant Female Hormonal Suppression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Callimico (Callimico goeldii) es la única especie de tamarinos o mar­mosetas que regularmente produce sólo un infante, posiblemente representando un rasgo derivado. Por tanto, estudios de las interacciones adulto-infante entre los calimicos ofrecen importantes ideas sobre la evolución cooperativa del cuidado del infante en los callitrícidos. Estudiamos un grupo de calimicos, que consistía en una hembra adulta (FH), dos machos adultos (MR y MJ) y una hembra joven (FS), en una localidad en Bolivia. Datos sobre cuidado de infantes y conducta de apareamiento fueron tomados de manera oportunista durante tres meses seguido al nacimiento de FS. Posteriormente, información sobre el comportamiento y distancias del vecino más cercano fueron recolectadas durante ocho meses utilizando un muestreo animal-focal, y completando 1,199 horas de observación. Las distancias más cercanas entre los miembros del grupo variaron significativamente (p < 0.001): en promedio la hembra reproductora fue encontrada 2.7 m de su infante, 2.8 m del macho adulto MJ y 3.5 m del macho adulto MR. La frecuencia de la conducta de acicalamiento varió significativamente entre adultos (p < 0.001): FH fue el más acicalado (8.4% de las observaciones) y paso el menor tiempo acicalando a otros (3.4%), mientras que MR fue el menos acicalado (5.9%) y acicaló más a otros (10.7%). A pesar de que se observó apareamiento entre FH y ambos machos dentro de los dos meses siguientes al nacimiento de FS, no se produjeron crías adicionales. Todos los adultos compartieron comida y cargaron al infante. Los adultos también intercambiaron comida entre ellos. Comportamiento agresivo entre los adultos fue extremadamente raro (N = 8) y ocurriendo en seis ocasiones en contexto de alimentación y en dos ocasiones en contextos no alimenticios. Esta información demuestra que, a pesar que producir hijos únicos, los calimicos como muchas de las otras callitricidos son caracterizados por patrones de comportamiento poliándrico, grupos espacialmente cohesivos y niveles altos de cooperación social.


Sagüi-de-goeldi (Callimico goeldii) é a única espécie dentre os micos e sagüis que produz, regularmente, um infante, representando possivelmente uma característica derivada. Portanto, estudos sobre as interações adultos-infantes entre sagüis-de-goeldi oferecem importantes informações sobre a evolução do cuidado cooperativo em calitriquídeos. Nós estudamos um grupo de sagüis-de-goeldi, formado por uma fêmea adulta (FH) dois machos adultos (MR e MJ) e uma fêmea jovem (FS) em uma estação de campo na Bolívia. Foram coletados de modo oportunístico dados sobre o cuidado à prole e sobre o comportamento de acasalamento 3 meses após o nascimento de FS. A seguir, foram coletados, durante 8 meses, os dados comportamentais e a distância entre os animais mais próximos usando o método focal durante 1,199 horas de observação. As menores distâncias entre os membros do grupo variaram significativamente (p < 0.001): em média a fêmea reprodutora ficou a 2.7 m do seu infante, 2.8 do macho adulto MJ e 3.5 m do outro macho adulto MR. A freqüência de catação social variou significativamente entre adultos (p < 0.001): FH foi a que recebeu mais catação (8.4% das observações) e gastou o menor tempo catando os outros animais (3.4%) enquanto MR foi catado menos (5.9%) e catou mais os outros animais (10.7%). Embora FH tenha acasalado com ambos os machos nos dos dois meses após o nascimento de FS, ela não deu cria adicionais. Todos os adultos partilharam alimento com os infantes e os carregaram. Os adultos também partilharam alimento entre si. Os comportamentos agressivos entre adultos foram muito raros (n = 8), sendo 6 deles no contexto alimentar. Os dados demonstram que a despeito de gerar filhotes únicos, sagüis-de-goeldi, da mesma forma que muitos outros calitriquídeos, são caracterizados por um padrão poliândrico de acasalamento, sendo os grupos espacialmente coesos e com níveis elevados de cooperação social.



This research was supported by the Chicago Zoological Society, the Primate Action Fund of Conservation International, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Thanks to Edilio Nacimento, Julio Flores, and Fransisco Brilhante, for their help with habituation, Edilio Nacimento, Ruddy Cuadiay, Ruht Cuadiay, Carlos Amotari, and Erica Berloz, for their help with data collection, and Sarah Garner for her help with data entry. PAG thanks Sara and Jenni for their insights on more and less effective infant care strategies.


  1. Abbott D (1993) Social conflict and reproductive suppression in marmoset and tamarin monkeys. In: Mason W, Mendoza S (eds) Primate social conflict. State University of New York Press, Albany, pp 331–372Google Scholar
  2. Abbott D, Barrett J, George L (1993) Comparative aspects of the social suppression of reproduction in female marmosets and tamarins. In: Rylands AB (ed) Marmosets and tamarins: systematics, behaviour and ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 152–163Google Scholar
  3. Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behavior 49:227–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck B, Anderson D, Ogden J, Rettberg B, Brejla C, Scola R, Warneke M (1982) Breeding the Goeldi’s monkey at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago. Intl Zoo Ybk 22:106–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carroll J (1982) Maintenance of the Goeldi’s monkey at Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. Intl Zoo Ybk 22:101–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carroll J (1985) Pair bonding in the Goeldi’s Monkey. Dodo J Wildl Preserv Trust 22:57–71Google Scholar
  7. Carroll J (1988) The stability of multifemale groups of Goeldi’s monkey, Callimico goeldii in captivity. Dodo 25:37–43Google Scholar
  8. Dettling A, Pryce C (1999) Hormonal monitoring of age at sexual maturation in female Goeldi’s Monkeys (Callimico goeldii) in their family groups. Am J Primatol 48:77–83CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dietz J, Baker A (1993) Polygyny and female reproductive success in golden lion tamarins, Leontopithecus rosalia. Anim Behav 46:1067–1078CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dietz J, Baker A, Miglioretti D (1994) Seasonal variation in reproduction, juvenile growth, and adult body mass in golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia). Am J Primatol 34:115–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Digby L, Saltzman W (this volume) Balancing cooperation and competition in callitrichid primates: examining the relative risk of infanticide across species. In: Ford SM, Porter LM, Davis LC (eds) The smallest anthropoids: the marmoset/callimico radiation. Springer, New York, pp 135–153Google Scholar
  12. Dunbar R (1995) The mating system of callitrichid primates: II. The impact of helpers. Anim Behav 50:1071–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. French J, Inglett B (1989) Female-female aggression and male indifferences in response to unfamiliar intruders in lion tamarins. Anim Behav 37:487–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garber P (1994) Phylogenetic approach to the study of tamarin and marmoset social systems. Am J Primatol 34:199–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garber P (1997) One for all and breeding for one: cooperation and competition as a tamarin reproductive strategy. Evol Anthropol 5:187–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garber P, Leigh S (1997) Ontogenetic variation in small-bodied New World primates Implications for patterns of reproduction and infant care. Folia Primatol 68:1–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Garber P, Moya L, Malaga C (1984) A preliminary study of the moustached tamarin monkey (S. mystax) in northeastern Peru: questions concerned with the evolution of a communal breeding system. Folia Primatol 42:17–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goldizen A (1987) Facultative polyandry and the role of infant-carrying in wild saddle-backed tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20:99–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goldizen A (1990) A comparative perspective on the evolution of tamarin and marmoset social systems. Intl J Primatol 11:63–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goldizen A, Mendelson J, van Vlaardingen M, Terborgh J (1996) Saddle-back tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis) reproductive strategies: evidence from a 13-year study of a marked population. Am J Primatol 38:57–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton W (1964) The genetical evolution of social behavior II. J Theoret Biol 7:17–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hanson A, Hall M, Porter L, Lintzenich B (2006) Composition and nutritional characteristics of fungi consumed by Callimico goeldii in Pando, Bolivia. Intl J Primatol 27:323–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hardie S (1995) Do subordinate female Callimico disperse from their social groups? Folia Primatol 64:192–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hartwig W (1996) Perinatal life history traits in New World monkeys. Am J Primatol 40:99–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hauser M, Chen M, Chen F, Chuang E (2003) Give unto others: genetically unrelated cotton-top tamarin monkeys preferentially give food to those who altruistically give food back. Proc R Soc Lond B 270:2363–2370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heymann E (2003) Scent marking, paternal care, and sexual selection in callitrichines. In: Jones C (ed) Sexual selection and reproductive competition in primates: new perspectives and direction. Am J Primatol, Oklahoma, pp 305–325Google Scholar
  27. Heymann E, Soini P (1999) Offspring number in pygmy marmosets, Cebuella pygmaea, in relation to group size and the number of adult males. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 46:400–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huck M, Löttker P, Heymann E (2004) Proximate mechanisms of reproductive monopolization in male moustached tamarins (Saguinus mystax). Am J Primatol 64:39–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Huck M, Löttker P, Böhle U, Heymann E (2005) Paternity and kinship patterns in polyandrous moustached tamarins (Saguinus mystax). Am J Phys Anthropol 127:449–464CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Janson C, van Schaik C (1993) Ecological risk aversion in juvenile primates: slow and steady wins the race. In: Pereira M, Fairbanks L (eds) Juvenile primates: life history, development, and behavior. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 57–74Google Scholar
  31. Jurke M (2002) Reproductive biology of nonhuman primates. Evol Anthropol 11:186–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jurke M, Pryce C (1994) Parental and infant behavior during early periods of infant care in Goeldi’s monkey, Callimico goeldii. Anim Behav 48:1095–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Koenig A (1995) Group size, composition, and reproductive success in wild common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Am J Primatol 35:311–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lee P, Bowman J (1995) Influence of ecology and energetics on primate mothers and infants. In: Pryce C, Martin R, Skuse D (eds) Motherhood in human and nonhuman primates. Basel, Karger, pp 47–58Google Scholar
  35. Masataka N (1981) A field study of the social behavior of Goeldi’s monkeys (Callimico goeldii) in north Bolivia: I Group composition, breeding cycle, and infant development: Kyoto University overseas research reports. Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, pp 23–32Google Scholar
  36. Nievergelt C, Digby L, Ramakrishnan U, Woodruff D (2000) Genetic analysis of group composition and breeding system in a wild common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) population. Intl J Primatol 21:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Porter L (2001) Callimico goeldii and Saguinus: dietary differences between sympatric callitrichines in northern Bolivia. Am J Phys Anthropol 22:961–992Google Scholar
  38. Porter L (2003) Social organization of wild groups of Callimico goeldii in northwestern Bolivia. Am J Phys Anthropol 120(S36):170 (abstract)Google Scholar
  39. Porter L, Garber P (2004) Goeldi’s monkeys: a primate paradox? Evol Anthropol 13:104–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Price E (1992) The benefits of helpers: effects of group and litter size on infant care in tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Am J Primatol 26:179–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Promislow D, Harvey P (1990) Living fast and dying young: a comparative analysis of life-history variation among mammals. J Zool Lond B 220:417–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pryce C, Pastorini J, Vasarhelyi K, Christen A (2002) Bio-behavioral description of social and reproductive relationships in captive Goeldi’s monkeys. Evol Anthropol 11:190–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sanchez S, Pelaes F, Gil-Burmann C, Kaumanns W (1999) Costs of infant-carrying in the cotton-top tamarin. Am J Primatol 48:99–111CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Schradin C, Anzenberger G (2001a) Costs of infant carrying in common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus: an experimental analysis. Anim Behav 62:289–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schradin C, Anzenberger G (2001b) Infant carrying in family groups of Goeldi’s monkeys (Callimico goeldii). Am J Primatol 53:57–67CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Soini P (1982) Ecology and population dynamics of the pygmy marmoset, Cebuella pygmaea. Folia Primatol 39:1–21CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Steudel K (2000) The physiology and energetics of movement: effects on individuals and groups. In: Boinski S, Garber PA (eds) On the Move: how and why animals travel in groups. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 9–23Google Scholar
  48. Tardif S (1994) Relative energetic costs of infant care in small-bodied Neotropical primates and its relation to infant-care patterns. Am J Primatol 34:133–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tardif S (1995) The bioenergetics of parental behavior and the evolution of alloparental care in marmosets and tamarins. In: Solomon N, French J (eds) Coopertive breeding in mammals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 11–33Google Scholar
  50. Tardif S, Bales K (1997) Is infant-carrying a courtship strategy in callitrichid primates. Anim Behav 53:1001–1007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Trivers RL (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Q Rev Biol 46:35–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yamamoto M (1993) From dependence to sexual maturity: the behavioral ontogeny of Callitrichidae. In: Rylands A (ed) Marmosets and tamarins: systematics, behaviour and ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 235–254Google Scholar
  53. Yamamoto ME, Arruda M de F, Alencar AI, de Sousa MBC, Araújo A (this volume) Mating systems and female-female competition in the common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus. In: Ford SM, Porter LM, Davis LC (eds) The smallest anthropoids: the marmoset/callimico radiation. Springer, New York, pp 119–133Google Scholar
  54. Ziegler T, Snowdon C, Warneke M (1989) Postpartum ovulation and conception in Goeldi’s monkey, Callimico goeldii. Folia Primatol 52:206–210CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

Personalised recommendations