Anthropology Primatology
by
Christina J. Campbell
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0019

Introduction

Primatology, the scientific study of the members of the order Primates is, by its very nature, a multidisciplinary field, encompassing information gathered by scientists in many academic fields including, but not limited to, anthropology, zoology, psychology, and biology. Typically the term primatology is used in reference to the study of nonhuman primates, thus excluding our own species and those fossil species belonging to our closest extinct relatives. Primatologists may study their subjects in natural situations—i.e., where the study animals are free ranging in their natural habitat—in zoological gardens, captive research facilities, or rehabilitation centers (where previously captive animals are being geared toward release into either a truly wild habitat or a provisioned one).

Historical Background

Primate studies have a rich and diverse history. There have been many changes in the theoretical basis underpinning primatological research, and these changes are often reflected in the types of studies conducted (reviewed in Sussman 2011). During the 1980s, one of the biggest influences was an increase in the number of women in the field and the rising critique of the then male-centric ideologies of the field (Fedigan 1982, Sperling 1991). A movement away from natural history studies to more hypothesis-driven research has characterized the most recent twenty years in the field (Strier 2003, Sussman 2011). Additionally, an increase in range of taxa being studied has challenged preconceived notions about the ubiquity of many traits and behaviors (Strier 1994).

  • Fedigan, L. M. 1982. Primate paradigms: Sex roles and social bonds. Montreal: Eden.

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    This book provides a critique of the male-centric nature of primatological studies prior to its publication, stressing the importance of females in primate social groups and evolution.

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    • Sperling, S. 1991. Baboons with briefcases vs. langurs in lipstick: Feminism and functionalism in primate studies. In Gender at the crossroads of knowledge: Feminist anthropology in the postmodern era. Edited by M. di Leonardo, 204–234. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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      This book chapter discusses the history of feminism in primatological studies. It also provides a feminist critique of sociobiology.

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      • Strier, K. B. 1994. Myth of the typical primate. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 37:233–271.

        DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330370609E-mail Citation »

        In this article, the author challenges the notion that terrestrial old-world monkeys are typical and reviews data on kinship, aggression, and sex across the primate order to show that there is no such thing as a “typical” primate. Available online for purchase.

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        • Strier, K. B. 2003. Primate behavioral ecology: From ethnography to ethology and back. American Anthropologist 105.1: 16–27.

          DOI: 10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.16E-mail Citation »

          This article discusses the changing nature of primatological inquiry within the broader anthropological field. It compares the earlier field studies to those of human ethnographers and then discusses how the inclusion of ecology, phylogeny, and demography changed the direction of study. Available online for purchase.

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          • Sussman, R. W. 2011. A brief history of primate field studies. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 6–11. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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            This book chapter provides a timeline of primatological fieldwork and discusses changes in theoretical perspectives throughout the 20th century—illustrating how these changes have influenced the kinds of studies that were conducted.

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            Taxonomy and Evolution

            Primate taxonomy and evolution are topics that require their own bibliographic entries—as such only the most general and widely cited references are provided here. Classification is somewhat subjective, sometimes leading to disagreement among scientists. This is especially prevalent at the species level of taxonomy—Groves 2001 provides the most complete treatment of primate taxonomy available to date. Likewise, because the fossil record of primate evolution is incomplete, there are multiple interpretations of the existing data and scenarios of the evolutionary history of the primate. The most widely cited scenarios suggest that primate evolution involved predation on insects (Cartmill 1974), co-evolution with angiosperms (Sussman 1991), or a combination of both (Rasmussen 1990). Reviews of the available evidence and theories can be found in Fleagle 1999, Hartwig 2002, and Hartwig 2011.

            • Cartmill, M. 1974. Rethinking primate origins. Science 184.4135: 436–443.

              DOI: 10.1126/science.184.4135.436E-mail Citation »

              Cartmill argues that a basic adaptation of preying on small animals led to the divergence of the earliest primates from their insectivorous ancestors.

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              • Fleagle, J. G. 1999. Primate adaptation and evolution. 2d ed. London: Academic Press.

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                Although somewhat outdated, this text provides an overview of primate evolutionary history, while also examining adaptations among living primates in relation to diet, locomotion, etc.

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                • Groves, C. 2001. Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Series in Comparative Evolutionary Biology. Washington, DC: Smithsonian.

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                  Undoubtedly the most comprehensive and widely cited complete review of primate taxonomy.

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                  • Hartwig, W. C., ed. 2002. The primate fossil record. Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology 33. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                    This highly detailed edited volume provides overviews of different eras and geographic areas as well as detailed information about fossil species.

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                    • Hartwig, W. C. 2011. Primate evolution. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 19–31. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                      This book chapter provides an overview of the primate fossil record as well as a basic taxonomic outline of the primate order; it also summarizes theories relating to the origin of primates.

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                      • Rasmussen, D. T. 1990. Primate origins: Lessons from a neotropical marsupial. American Journal of Primatology 22.4: 263–278.

                        DOI: 10.1002/ajp.1350220406E-mail Citation »

                        Using a living marsupial as an analogy for what early primates looked like, Rasmussen argues for tightly linked co-evolution among insects, flowering plants, and the animals that preyed on them.

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                        • Sussman, R. W. 1991. Primate origins and the evolution of angiosperms. American Journal of Primatology 23.4: 209–223.

                          DOI: 10.1002/ajp.1350230402E-mail Citation »

                          Sussman argues that primate origins are inherently related to the contemporaneous appearance of the angiosperms (flowering plants) and that this new source of food would have opened up numerous previously unavailable niches. Available online for purchase.

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                          General Overviews

                          University-level courses focusing specifically on nonhuman primates are typically taught under the banner of anthropology. In other disciplines (e.g., zoology, biology, psychology), primates usually are not the sole focus of courses. Books listed here function primarily as college-level texts (e.g., Dolhinow and Fuentes 1999, Falk 2000, Strier 2011) or as both textbook and reference sources for professional primatologists (e.g., Smuts, et al. 1987; Campbell, et al. 2011). Only the most recent editions of multi-edition volumes are listed.

                          • Campbell, C. J., A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, eds. 2011. Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                            The most up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the taxonomy, behavior, and ecology of nonhuman primates and the methods used by primatologists. Useful as a textbook and/or a reference source for professional primatologists.

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                            • Dolhinow, P., and A. Fuentes, eds. 1999. The nonhuman primates. Mountainview, CA: Mayfield.

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                              An edited volume that offers a number of essays that are appropriate for an introductory-level primatology course.

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                              • Falk, D. 2000. Primate diversity. New York: Norton.

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                                An introductory-level textbook that focuses more on introducing the actual primates than on theories of behavior, ecology, etc.

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                                • Smuts, B. B., D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, and T. T. Struhsaker. 1987. Primate societies. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                  At the time of its publication, this edited volume was the most comprehensive source of information on the behavior and ecology of nonhuman primates. It has been effectively replaced by Campbell, et al. 2011, although many of its chapters are still useful.

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                                  • Strier, K. B. 2011. Primate behavioral ecology. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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                                    An introductory-level textbook that focuses on theories and data concerning behavioral ecology as it relates to the nonhuman primates.

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                                    Journals

                                    Due to the multidisciplinary nature of primatological inquiry, publications concerning nonhuman primates can be found in a wide range of journals. The American Journal of Physical Anthropology publishes articles in all of the areas of physical anthropology, including primatology. Journals that publish only primatological-based research include American Journal of Primatology, International Journal of Primatology, Folia Primatologica, and Primates. Regional journals such as Neotropical Primates, African Primates, and Asian Primates Journal focus on current research on primates native to each of their respective regions. In addition to these journals, many important articles are also published in journals such as Animal Behavior, Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Hormones and Behavior, and others that are not included here.

                                    • African Primates.

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                                      Peer-reviewed, freely available online journal of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist Group. Publishes articles related to the biology and conservation of African primates. Begun in 1995.

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                                      • American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

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                                        This peer-reviewed monthly journal is the official journal of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. It publishes articles (primary and review) concerning all aspects of physical anthropology, including primate evolution and behavior, in addition to book reviews. Begun in 1918.

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                                        • American Journal of Primatology.

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                                          This is a peer-reviewed journal is the official journal of the American Society of Primatologists. It publishes research articles related to all fields of primatological inquiry. Volumes published prior to 2011 are also a good source for brief notes relating to anecdotal observations. Begun in 1981.

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                                          • Asian Primates Journal.

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                                            New peer-reviewed journal of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. It publishes articles on the taxonomy, behavior, genetics (when relevant for systematics), biogeography, ecology, and conservation of Asian primates.

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                                            • Folia Primatologica.

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                                              This peer-reviewed journal is the official journal of the European Federation of Primatology. It publishes original articles covering all aspects of primatology. Begun in 1963.

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                                              • International Journal of Primatology.

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                                                This peer-reviewed journal is the official journal of the International Primatological Society. It publishes primary-research articles and book reviews. Begun in 1980.

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                                                • Neotropical Primates.

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                                                  Peer-reviewed journal and newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. Publishes articles about the conservation and biology of new world primates. Begun in 1993.

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                                                  • Primates.

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                                                    Peer-reviewed journal that publishes original articles covering all aspects of primatology. Originally a journal of the Japan Monkey Center. Articles are now published in English. Begun in 1957.

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                                                    Methods

                                                    The methods employed by researchers studying nonhuman primates vary depending on the specific academic field of inquiry from which the researchers hail. For example, studies that take place in a captive setting are far more likely to implement experimental manipulation than those occurring in a natural setting (see Martin and Bateson 2007 for a review). Field studies are largely observational, with sampling protocols now standardized as a result of Altmann 1974, which described and defined the various methods of sampling behaviors. Advances in technology have greatly expanded the types of questions that primatologists can hope to answer, especially in field-based studies (Campbell, et al. 2011; Di Fiore, et al. 2011; Vogel and Dominy 2011; and Wheaton, et al. 2011).

                                                    • Altmann, J. 1974. Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behaviour 49.3: 227–267.

                                                      DOI: 10.1163/156853974X00534E-mail Citation »

                                                      Although almost forty years old, this pivotal piece is still the standard guide for how to sample primate behavioral data. Available online for purchase.

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                                                      • Campbell, C. J., M. Crofoot, K. C. MacKinnon, and R. M. Stumpf. 2011. Behavioral data collection in primate field studies. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 6–11. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                        This book chapter discusses the methods used and technologies available to primatologists conducting behavioral studies in a field setting.

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                                                        • Di Fiore, A., R. R. Lawler, and P. Gagneux. 2011. Molecular primatology. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 390–416. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                          This book chapter provides detailed explanations of the various molecular techniques used by primatologists and the types of questions that can be answered by using these techniques.

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                                                          • Martin, P., and P. Bateson. 2007. Measuring behaviour: An introductory guide. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                            Guide to the principles and methods of collecting quantitative behavioral data.

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                                                            • Vogel, E. R., and N. J. Dominy. 2011. Measuring ecological variables for primate field studies. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 367–377. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                              Overview of the methods used in studies of primate ecology.

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                                                              • Wheaton, C. J., A. Savage, and B. L. Lasley. 2011. Advances in the understanding of primate reproductive endocrinology. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 377–389. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                This book chapter outlines the physiological basis for the major endocrinological methods employed by primatologists. It also provides a comprehensive list of studies that have used the various methods.

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                                                                Conservation

                                                                More than half of the recognized species of primates are in danger of extinction. Much of the literature pertaining to primate conservation is found in highly specific journal articles relating to the status and distribution of certain species, subspecies, or populations that are too numerous to list here. A list of the top twenty-five endangered primate species is published biannually (Mittermeier, et al. 2009). Broader treatments of conservation-based issues and practices can be found in Marsh and Mittermeier 1987 and Cowlishaw and Dunbar 2000. For some species, captive breeding may be an important source for future populations, as outlined in Wallis 1997. More recently, Strier 2011 provides an up-to-date outline of the major threat to most populations of primates in peril, i.e., anthropogenic activity including deforestation, forest fragmentation, hunting, and the pet trade. The IUCN Red List is an online source, providing an up-to-date list of the world’s endangered species (primates included).

                                                                • Cowlishaw, G., and R. Dunbar. 2000. Primate conservation biology. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                  Many chapters in this edited volume investigate threats to modern-day primates, in addition to conservation strategies and management practices for a number of different primate taxa.

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                                                                  • IUCN Red List.

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                                                                    This website gives an up-to-date list of the world’s endangered species. One can browse by region, status, and/or taxonomy.

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                                                                    • Marsh, C. W., and R. A. Mittermeier, eds. 1987. Primate conservation in the tropical rain forest. New York: Alan R. Liss.

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                                                                      The chapters in this edited volume review the factors threatening primate populations and stress two themes: (1) primate conservation is tied to the conservation of tropical rain forests, and (2) the trade in primates must be controlled if primate populations are to survive.

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                                                                      • Mittermeier, R. A., J. Wallis, A. B. Rylands, et al. 2009. Primates in peril: The world’s 25 most endangered primates 2008–2010. Primate Conservation 24:1–57.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1896/052.024.0101E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Published every two years and revealed at the biannual meeting of the International Primatological Society, this is a “who’s who” in the world of endangered primate species.

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                                                                        • Strier, K. B. 2011. Conservation. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, S. K. Bearder, and R. M. Stumpf, 664–675. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                          In this review chapter, Strier outlines the major threats facing primate populations today and provides examples of successful conservation programs.

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                                                                          • Wallis, J., ed. 1997. Primate conservation: The role of zoological parks. Special Topics in Primatology 1. Chicago: American Society of Primatologists.

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                                                                            This edited volume provides details of primate conservation projects conducted or sponsored by zoological parks located in the United States.

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                                                                            Diet

                                                                            As feeding is such a critical aspect of daily life, studies of foraging and diet have occupied center stage in the history of primatological research. Researchers have long recognized that what primates eat can have a large impact on how they spend their lives, which in turn has led to entire disciplines such as Socioecology. Early research focused on studying the relative importance of certain food categories in the diet of various species (e.g., Harding 1981). Later attention turned to investigating morphological and physiological adaptations that increased the effectiveness of primate digestive systems (Chivers and Hladik 1980; Chivers, et al. 1984, Milton 1984). More recently, comparative studies have been undertaken using natural history data to investigate wider patterns within the primate order (Lambert 2011, Oates 1987).

                                                                            • Chivers, D. J., and C. M. Hladik. 1980. Morphology of the gastrointestinal tract in primates: Comparisons with other mammals in relation to diet. Journal of Morphology 166.3: 337–386.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1002/jmor.1051660306E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Investigates the relationship between gut morphology and the specific dietary categories of faunivory, folivory, and frugivory. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                              • Chivers, D. J., B. A. Wood, and A. Bilsborough, eds. 1984. Food acquisition and processing in primates. Proceedings of a symposium and workshop on food acquisition and processing in primates, held 22–26 March 1982 in Cambridge, UK. New York: Plenum.

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                                                                                The chapters in this edited volume examine the data available at the time (c. 1984) on food acquisition, food processing, and evolutionary perspectives on feeding. The conference focused on food acquisition and processing in primates.

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                                                                                • Harding, R. S. O. 1981. An order of omnivores: Nonhuman primate diets in the wild. In Omnivorous primates: Gathering and hunting in human evolution. Edited by R. S. O. Harding and G. Teleki, 191–214. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  Reviews the diets of many nonhuman primates, showing that most species include multiple types of foods and are thus technically classifiable as omnivores.

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                                                                                  • Lambert, J. E. 2011. Primate nutritional ecology: Feeding biology and diet at ecological and evolutionary scales. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 512–522. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                    This chapter is the most up-to-date review of the nutrient requirements of nonhuman primates, and what the various diets offer in terms of macro- and micronutrients.

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                                                                                    • Milton, K. 1984. The role of food processing factors in primate choice. In Adaptations for foraging in nonhuman primates. Edited by P. Rodman and J. Cant, 249–279. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                      Data on gut passage rate are presented, showing that the speed at which food passes through the digestive tract of various primate species is related to the type of foods they consume.

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                                                                                      • Oates, J. F. 1987. Food distribution and foraging behavior. In Primate societies. Edited by B. B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, and T. T. Struhsaker, 197–209. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                        Landmark review of the ecological aspects of primate feeding, paying particular attention to the ways in which the spatial and temporal distributions of food influence primate foraging.

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                                                                                        Socioecology

                                                                                        Socioecology is the study of how a species’ environment (especially food, its seasonality, distribution, and abundance) influences its behavior, social organization, and social structure. Differences in the types of food consumed (e.g., fruits vs. leaves) and the distribution of food (e.g., patchy vs. not patchy, defendable vs. not defendable) have been shown to have somewhat predictable influences on social factors. Crook and Gartlan 1966 and Eisenberg, et al. 1972 focused on categorizing the various primate species into distinct ecologically based groups. Similarly, Clutton-Brock and Harvey 1977 did not produce testable predictions and clear directions for future research. Terborgh 1983, a study in Peru, was smaller in scale than previous and following studies, choosing to focus on the socioecology of five sympatric species in Peru. The works of Wrangham (Wrangham 1980, and Wrangham 1987) and van Schaik and van Hoof 1983 propose strong links between ecological factors such as food defensibility, female bonding, predation, and dispersal patterns. Additionally, their works provided a series of clear predictions that sparked a flurry of further field studies, allowing for comparative studies that either operated at a broad scale (e.g., Lee 1999) or investigated the validity of previously accepted notions of breeding patterns (e.g., Fuentes 1998).

                                                                                        • Clutton-Brock, T. H., and P. H. Harvey. 1977. Primate ecology and social organization. Journal of Zoology 183.1: 1–39.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1977.tb04171.xE-mail Citation »

                                                                                          The authors compare body weight, group size, home-range size, day-range length, sex ratio, and sexual dimorphism of 100 primate species, allocated to seven ecological categories. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                          • Crook, J. H. and J. C. Gartlan. 1966. Evolution of primate societies. Nature 210:1200–1203.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1038/2101200a0E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            In this article, the authors developed specific dietary and ecological categories and then placed primates into these, on the basis of habitat use, group size, etc. They found broad consistencies—for example, that solitary primates tend to be nocturnal.

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                                                                                            • Eisenberg, J. F., N. A. Muckenhirn, and R. Rudran. 1972. The relation between ecology and social structure in primates. Science 176.4037: 863–874.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4037.863E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This article expands on the work of Crook and Gartlan 1966 by including mating systems and is also an exercise in assigning primates to specific categories.

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                                                                                              • Fuentes, A. F. 1998. Re-evaluating primate monogamy. American Anthropologist 100.4: 890–907.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1525/aa.1998.100.4.890E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                In this article the notion of “monogamy” as a category of primate social system is challenged. The author shows that primate species historically purported to be “monogamous” actually exhibit a wide range of mating and social systems. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                • Lee, P. C., 1999. Comparative primate socioecology. Cambridge Studies in Biological Anthropology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                  The chapters in this edited volume emphasize the comparative method as a good way in which to understand primate socioecology.

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                                                                                                  • Terborgh, J. 1983. Five new world primates: A study in comparative ecology. Monographs in Behavior and Ecology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                    Terborgh shows how variation in behavioral characteristics of five sympatric species at Cocha Cashu Park in Peru relates to the concentration of a species’ principal food sources.

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                                                                                                    • van Schaik, C. P., and J.A.R.A.M. van Hoof. 1983. On the ultimate causes of primate social systems. Behaviour 85:91–117.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1163/156853983X00057E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      These authors examine the role that predation avoidance, in conjunction with feeding ecology, has on primate social organization.

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                                                                                                      • Wrangham, R. W. 1980. An ecological model of female-bonded primate groups. Behaviour 75:262–300.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1163/156853980X00447E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Outlines the prediction that, when food is defensible, females are expected to cooperate with kin and form strong alliances, which results in female-bonded social groupings.

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                                                                                                        • Wrangham, R. W. 1987. Evolution of social structure. In Primate societies. Edited by B. B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, and T. T. Struhsaker, 282–296. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                          In this review the author examines the role of defensibility of food, spatial and temporal distribution of food patches, and predator pressure in primate social organization.

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                                                                                                          Cognition and Intelligence

                                                                                                          An increased reliance on learned behaviors and intelligence is considered a hallmark of the primate order (see Tomasello and Call 1997 for a review). When Gallup 1970 showed that chimpanzees appear to have a sense of self, interest in variation in intelligence within the nonhuman primates became a major area of research. Hypotheses explaining intellectual variation tend to relate to the types of foods consumed and their distribution in the environment (e.g., Milton 1981), to the ways in which foods are procured, especially through the use of tools (e.g., Humle and Fragazy 2011), or to the number and complexity of social relationships faced by individuals in their social group (e.g., Dunbar 1998).

                                                                                                          • Dunbar, R. I. M. 1998. The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology 6.5: 178–190.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6505(1998)6:5%3C178::AID-EVAN5%3E3.0.CO;2-8E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Dunbar tests predictions for various hypotheses that have been proposed to explain variation in intelligence and brain size in nonhuman primates, arguing that data most strongly support sociality and the need to maintain social relations as the major driving force.

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                                                                                                            • Gallup, G. G. 1970. Chimpanzees: Self-Recognition. Science 167:86–87.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3914.86E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Provided evidence of self-recognition by chimpanzees, but not by monkeys, through application of the now famous “mirror test.” The author suggests that the difference among primates in their ability to pass this test reflects different levels of cognitive ability.

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                                                                                                              • Humle, T., and D. M. Fragazy. 2011. Tool use and cognition in primates. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 637–651. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                This chapter provides a review of information about cognition in primates, specifically with respect to tool use.

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                                                                                                                • Milton, K. 1981. Distribution patterns of tropical plant foods as an evolutionary stimulus to primate mental development. American Anthropologist 83.3: 534–548.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1525/aa.1981.83.3.02a00020E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  The author argues that the ability to remember food locations and phonological patterns was a major selective force in the evolution of more complex cerebral function in certain higher primates.

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                                                                                                                  • Tomasello, M., and J. Call, eds. 1997. Primate cognition. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    The chapters in this edited volume assess the state of knowledge (at the time of publication) of the cognitive skills of nonhuman primates. They compile a historical-theoretical review of the available data.

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                                                                                                                    Culture

                                                                                                                    Traditionally, culture has been defined as a uniquely human trait. Goodall 1973 suggested that variation in chimpanzee behavior across study sites represented different cultures. Since then, primatologists (McGrew 1998; Whitten, et al. 1999) have defined culture in a way that would allow its presence or absence in nonhuman animals to be tested. Since then, the evidence for variations in behavior among populations of wild primates categorized as cultural is mounting (e.g., Whitten, et al. 1999; Panger, et al. 2002; Perry, et al. 2003; Santorelli, et al. 2011, van Schaik, et al. 2003), even to the point that comparative reviews (e.g., Caldwell and Whitten 2011) are now available.

                                                                                                                    • Caldwell, C. A., and A. Whitten. 2011. Social learning in monkeys and apes: Cultural animals? In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 652–662. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                      The authors review the data supporting the existence of culture in various nonhuman primates (specifically apes and the genus Cebus) and also review the potential mechanisms for cultural transmission in nonhuman primates.

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                                                                                                                      • Goodall, J. 1973. Cultural elements in a chimpanzee community. In Precultural primate behavior. Edited by E.W.J. Menzel, 144–184. Basel, Switzerland: Karger.

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                                                                                                                        Goodall suggests that behavior differences seen at Gombe, but not at other study sites, are cultural variants.

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                                                                                                                        • McGrew, W. C. 1998. Culture in nonhuman primates? Annual Review of Anthropology 27:301–328.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.27.1.301E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          In this article, the author asks the questions “what is culture?” and “how can you determine if it exists in nonhuman animals?” He then provides a review of the evidence available at the time of publication for culture in various nonhuman primates and nonprimate animals.

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                                                                                                                          • Panger, M. A., S. Perry, L. Rose, et al. 2002. Cross-site differences in foraging behavior of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 119.1: 52–66.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.10103E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            The authors show variation in the way white-faced capuchins forage and handle their food across multiple sites, many of the differences being labeled cultural. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                            • Perry, S., M. Baker, L. M. Fedigan, et al. 2003. Social conventions in wild white-faced capuchins: Evidence for traditions in a neotropical primate. Current Anthropology 44.2: 241–268.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1086/345825E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Using data from the same field sites as did Panger, et al. 2002, plus one additional site, the authors are able to identify socially based behaviors present in some groups and not others.

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                                                                                                                              • Santorelli, C. J., C. M. Schaffner, C. J. Campbell, et al. 2011. Traditions in spider monkeys are biased towards the social domain. PLoS One 6.2: e16863.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016863E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This is the first article to investigate cultural traditions in the genus Ateles, showing that unlike in previously studied species, there is no bias toward food-related behaviors.

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                                                                                                                                • van Schaik, C. P., M. Ancrenaz, G. Borgen, et al. 2003. Orangutan cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science 299:102–105.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1126/science.1078004E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  The authors examine cultural differences in orangutans and show that the sites with the most similar behavioral suites are also the closest geographically.

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                                                                                                                                  • Whitten, A., J. Goodall, W. C. McGrew, et al. 1999. Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature 399:682–685.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1038/21415E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This landmark article was the first to systematically analyze behavioral data from multiple study sites, giving evidence for cultural variation in chimpanzee behavior.

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                                                                                                                                    Reproduction

                                                                                                                                    Studies of primate reproductive biology and behavior, like most avenues of primatological inquiry, can have their foundation in different academic disciplines. Understanding various aspects of nonhuman primate reproduction is important for conservation reasons, captive breeding programs, captive research facilities, evolutionary studies, behavioral studies, etc. Hafez 1971 is a good source of physiological data gathered mostly in captive settings. Dixson 1998 is more comprehensive, including information from field studies and also interpreting the available data in an evolutionary framework. Although a great deal of information is available in journal articles regarding individual species, many important pieces (e.g., Harcourt, et al. 1981; Hardy and Whitten 1987; Dewsbury and Pierce 1989; Muller and Wrangham 2009; Campbell 2011) have taken a comparative approach in an attempt to provide synthetic information across the primate order.

                                                                                                                                    • Campbell, C. J. 2011. Primate sexuality and reproduction. In Primates in perspective. 2d ed. Edited by C. J. Campbell, A. F. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, R. Stumpf, and S. Bearder, 464–475. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                      This book chapter provides a general overview of primate sexual behavior and biology.

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                                                                                                                                      • Dewsbury, D. A., and J. D. Pierce. 1989. Copulatory patterns of primates as viewed in broad mammalian perspective. American Journal of Primatology 17.1: 51–72.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/ajp.1350170106E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This article is a good review and source of data regarding primate copulatory patterns, including data on sexual positions, copulatory length, sexual anatomy, etc. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                        • Dixson, A. F. 1998. Primate sexuality: Comparative studies of the prosimians, monkeys, apes and human beings. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                          This is a comprehensive review of primate sexual behavior and reproductive biology that guides readers through the massive amount of information available on this topic and provides more than 2,000 references.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hafez, E. S., ed. 1971. Comparative reproduction of nonhuman primates. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

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                                                                                                                                            This edited volume is a good source for physiological data gathered in captive settings.

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                                                                                                                                            • Harcourt, A. H., P. H. Harvey, S. G. Larson, and R. V. Short. 1981. Testis weight, body weight and breeding system in primates. Nature 293:55–57.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1038/293055a0E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              In this article, the authors show that in species where multiple males mate with any given female, the testis weight relative to body weight is larger than expected. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hardy, S. B., and P. L. Whitten. 1987. Patterning of sexual activity. In Primate societies. Edited by B. B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, and T. T. Struhsaker, 370–384. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                In this review chapter, the authors show that unlike most mammals, anthropoid primates have lost a well-defined period of sexual activity otherwise known as estrus.

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                                                                                                                                                • Muller, M. N., and R. W. Wrangham, eds. 2009. Sexual coercion in primates and humans: An evolutionary perspective on male aggression against females. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                  This edited volume examines the evidence for and the evolutionary explanations of sexual coercion—the use of force as a mating strategy—in a variety of primate species.

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                                                                                                                                                  Sexual Swellings

                                                                                                                                                  Although female reproductive morphology is highly variable in the primate order, highly conspicuous sexual skin swellings are found only in twenty-five species of old world monkey and in both species of chimpanzee (Dixson 1983). Far from being the “norm” in primates, their presence in these species as a sexual signal has been a topic of debate. In most species, females reach maximum swelling around the time of ovulation, which suggests that the swellings act as a strong visual stimulus to males (Berlet and Anderson 1985). More recently, it has been suggested that they signal the reproductive quality of the female (Pagel 1994), or that their imperfect timing in relation to ovulation allows females to limit paternity to dominant males, while confusing paternity by attracting males outside of the exact time of ovulation (Nunn 1999).

                                                                                                                                                  • Bielert, C., and C. M. Anderson. 1985. Baboon sexual swellings and male response: A possible operational mammalian supernormal stimulus and response interaction. International Journal of Primatology 6.4: 377–393.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF02736384E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Using experimental manipulation, the authors show that sexual swellings are a strong visual stimulus for adult male baboons. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Dixson, A. F. 1983. Observations on the evolution and behavioral significance of “sexual skin” in female primates. Advances in the Study of Behavior 13:63–106.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/S0065-3454(08)60286-7E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      In this article the author shows the phylogenetic distribution of sexual swellings in the primate order and discusses the behavioral reaction of males to swellings in a large number of primate species.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Nunn, C. L. 1999. The evolution of exaggerated sexual swellings in primates and the graded-signal hypothesis. Animal Behavior 58:229–246.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1159E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        The author proposes that females manipulate male behavior so that dominant males tend to guard only at peak swelling, while allowing females to mate with multiple males outside peak swelling, which confuses paternity.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Pagel, M. 1994. The evolution of conspicuous oestrous advertisement in Old World monkeys. Animal Behaviour 47:1333–1341.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1994.1181E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          The author proposes that prominent female swellings reliably advertise some aspect of a female’s quality and have evolved through sexual selection because of competition among females to attract males. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                          Dominance and Reproductive Success

                                                                                                                                                          In social groups that have multiple males, the highest-ranking male is often assumed to have the highest reproductive success. Early models investigating this assumption include the “priority-of-access model” (Altmann 1962), which states that the success of a dominant male is related to his ability to monopolize all of the females, so that when there is female synchronicity in mating, or when there are a great deal of other adult males, the dominant male may not be as successful. Theoretical and literature-based reviews of this model include those of Fedigan 1983 and Cowlishaw and Dunbar 1991. Variance in male reproductive success may reflect variance in competitive ability (Bradley, et al. 2005). Alternatively, alpha males may be highly selective in their mating choices, only mating with females at their most fertile time (e.g., de Ruiter and van Hooff 1993). More recently, the model has been challenged on the grounds that the inability of the dominant male to monopolize females is not always the factor determining whether other males find reproductive success (Charpentier, et al. 2005).

                                                                                                                                                          • Altmann, S. A. 1962. A field study on the sociobiology of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 102:338–435.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1962.tb13650.xE-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            The author examines the influence of the number of males in a group and the level of synchronicity on female fertile periods and on the level of exclusive mating access experienced by the top-ranking males.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Bradley, B. J., M. M. Robbins, E. A. Williamson, et al. 2005. http://www.pnas.org/content/102/26/9418.full.pdf+html Mountain gorilla tug-of-war: Silverbacks have limited control over reproduction in multi-male groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102.26: 9418–9423.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0502019102E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              The authors show that variance in the reproductive success of silverback males in multimale mountain gorilla groups reflects the variance in their competitive ability.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Charpentier, M., P. Peignot, M. Hossaert-McKey, O. Gimenez, J. M. Setchell, and E. J. Wickings. 2005. Constraints on control: Factors influencing reproductive success in male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx). Behavioral Ecology 16.3: 614–623.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ari034E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                In this paper the authors challenge the idea that the ability of the dominant male to monopolize access to reproductively active females is the main factor determining his reproductive success.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Cowlishaw, G., and R.I.M. Dunbar. 1991. Dominance rank and mating success in male primates. Animal Behaviour 41.6: 1045–1056.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S0003-3472(05)80642-6E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  The authors examine rank and reproductive success in multiple studies, covering seventy-five study groups. Their data supports the priority-of-access model.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • De Ruiter, J. R., and J. A. R. A. M. van Hooff. 1993. Male dominance rank and reproductive success in primate groups. Primates 34.4: 513–523.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF02382662E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    The authors show a strong relationship between dominance ranking and reproductive success in Macaca fascicularis. They suggest that differences in outcomes of studies looking for this relationship may be attributable to various factors, including study conditions, group size, and species differences in reproductive strategies. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Fedigan, L. M. 1983. Dominance and reproductive success in primates. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 26:91–129.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the evidence for a correlation between dominance rank and reproductive success in male and female primates and discusses possible reasons as to why such correlations may not always be found.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Infanticide

                                                                                                                                                                      Sarah Hrdy (Hrdy 1974, Hrdy 1977) proposed the “Sexual Selection Hypothesis” as an evolutionary explanation for the killing of infant primates by adult males. Since then, the topic has received a large amount of attention in the primatological literature (e.g., Hausfater and Hrdy 1984, van Schaik and Janson 2000). Some authors (e.g., Bartlett, et al. 1993; Sussman, et al. 1995) question the quality of the data, suggesting that the hypothesis has limited explanatory power and that many cases of infant killing can be explained by alternative factors. Regardless of these challenges to the hypothesis, it remains a central tenet within primatological theory, to the point that its absence sometimes requires explanation (Beaudrot, et al. 2009).

                                                                                                                                                                      • Bartlett, T. Q., R. W. Sussman, and J. M. Cheverud. 1993. Infant killing in primates: A review of observed cases with specific reference to the sexual selection hypothesis. American Anthropologist 95.4: 958–990.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1525/aa.1993.95.4.02a00090E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        This article reviews the specific cases of reported infanticide and challenges their support for Hrdy’s sexual selection hypothesis. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Beaudrot, L. H., S. M. Kahlenberg, and A. J. Marshall. 2009. Why male orangutans don’t kill infants. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63:1549–1562.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s00265-009-0827-1E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          The authors examine predictions of the hypothesis as they relate to orangutan behavior and conclude that the conditions for infanticide are so rarely met that it should not be expected to occur.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Hausfater, G., and S. Hrdy, eds. 1984. Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                                                            In this first edited volume on the topic, the various authors examine the evidence for infanticide in multiple species.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Hrdy, S. 1974. Male–male competition and infanticide among the langurs (Presbytis entellus) of Abu, Rajasthan. Folia Primatologica 22:19–58.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1159/000155616E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              In this article, Hrdy first proposes that infanticide by male langur monkeys is an adaptive strategy.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Hrdy, S. 1977. Infanticide as a primate reproductive strategy. American Scientist 65.1: 40–49.

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                                                                                                                                                                                In this follow-up to her 1974 article, Hrdy more fully explains the sexual selection hypothesis of infanticide and further outlines many of its predictions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Sussman, R. W., J. M. Cheverud, and T. Q. Bartlett. 1995. Infant killing as an evolutionary strategy: Reality or myth?. Evolutionary Anthropology 3.5: 149–151.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1002/evan.1360030502E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Challenges the sexual selection theory of infanticide by pointing out problems with the data and with how the behavior can be transmitted from one generation to the next. Available online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • van Schaik, C. P., and C. H. Janson, eds. 2000. Infanticide by males and its implications. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511542312E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    The chapters in this more recent edited volume (cf. Hausfater and Hrdy 1984) further investigate the evidence supporting infanticide and also discuss the theory behind the phenomenon.

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