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Primate Ecology

by: Mary Jo Davison Gould

Primate Ecology ANT 301

Mary Jo Davison Gould

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About this Document

More in depth about primate ecology
Edward Kirk
Class Notes
primateecology, Anthropology, Anthro, 101, primate, Ecology, ut
25 ?





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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mary Jo Davison Gould on Sunday September 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANT 301 at University of Texas at Austin taught by Edward Kirk in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views.


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Date Created: 09/25/16
Primate Ecology and Behavior Key niche parameter: Diet  What an animal eats and can eat has a major impact on behavior, esp. social behavior  Fundamental concept: Females need more food than similar-sized males due to the energetic costs of pregnancy and lactation  Remember o In wild populations most females are either pregnant or lactating o Lactation most energetically stressful period o Not only feeding but carrying o Long period of infancy and learning period  Another key niche factor – how much space do you use/need/defend o Home range size o Territoriality  Home range – are where a primate group lives o Consistent over time o Animals return to same food sources / sleeping sites during the year o Home ranges of adjacent groups can overlap o No nomadic primates except humans  Territory – actively defended boundary of all or part of the home range o Conspecifics (members of the same species) kept out o Key feature: exclusive access (the social group) o Only some primates are territorial  Example: lowland gorilla in the Congo (has a home range with no territory)  Maintaining a territory is costly o Boundaries must be patrolled and defended o Physical aggression very costly o If it is costly, why pay the price?  Hypotheses  1. Defending resources  2. Defending mates  Resource Defense Territoriality o When does it make sense to defend resources?  When it is scarce and clumped (defensible)  Leads to contest competition  Contest Competition o Competition for resources that are clumped and defensible o Often involves aggression  Scramble competition o Competition for resources that more evenly distributed in space and not worth/can’t defend o May involves a ‘race’ to consume resources  Mate defense Territoriality o Premise: females need more food than males o What is the limiting resource for males?  Females  If a male has no excess to females he cannot reproduce but a female without food cannot reproduce o Sometimes territoriality seems to be about one male or a group of males defending access to females  Premise 1: Females need more food than males due to energetic costs of pregnancy and lactation: therefore, food is the limiting resource for females  Premise 2: Females are limiting resources for males  Primate (and mammalian) reproduction o What do females usually contribute  Egg, gestation, lactation  Infant carrying  Long period of infant dependency/learning o What is the absolute minimum a male has to contribute to reproduce?  Sperm  Asymmetry in Parental Investment o Expectation: Males usually invest less o Should they be choosy or promiscuous? (to maximize reproductive success)  Promiscuous o Females HAVE to invest more, should they be choosy or promiscuous  Choosy  Corollary: Males will try to dominate female attention in order to exclude other males from mating opportunities  Mate Guarding o Phenomenon at the core of mate defense territoriality o #youjustgotmateguarded  Why is there permanent male-female association in so many primate? o If males (generally) don’t contribute much to reproduction, why do females keep them around at all?  1. Some don’t keep males around  2. Males may help defend females and infants against predators (not as common but does happen)  3. Hired Guns Hypothesis: Females associate with familiar male(s) to prevent harassment from other males  Male harassment takes many forms  Most severe – infanticide o Example: Lions – new male kills all of the cubs from the previous male power in order to mate with the females (so they can take care of their cubs) o Primates especially susceptible to infanticide – because kids take a long time to mature o It occurs because it is a reproductive benefit to the male. They are only concerned with their own reproduction.  Why do females mate with the infanticide Male? o Cutting her losses o Male has demonstrated his fitness  By killing the offspring of the previous male he has proven that he has the right strategy to pass his genes on.


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