Presentation Title

Allomothering Among Captive Angolan Colobus Monkeys

Presenter Information

Kylie NecocheaFollow

Faculty Mentor

Lynne E Miller, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, MiraCosta College

Start Date

17-11-2018 8:00 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 8:15 AM

Location

C153

Session

Oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Allomothering, or the practice of caring for another individual’s infant, may be motivated by various forces. According to kin selection theory, individuals may increase their inclusive fitness by caring for offspring of close relatives. Furthermore, nulliparous females may increase their fitness by learning to mother through allomothering another female’s infant. This study sought to evaluate the relative strength of these motivations by testing two competing predictions: #1, If allomothering is motivated by kin selection, then close relatives will hold an infant more than distant relatives; #2, If allomothering is motivated by learning to mother, then nulliparous females will hold an infant more than parous females. The subjects of this study were eleven Angolan colobus monkeys, including one infant, at the San Diego Zoo. Colobus monkeys are a species of Old World primate that give birth to infants with white neonatal coats. This trait evolved in the context of alloparental care, making infants more attractive to other group members. Data were collected via focal animal sampling of individuals (a) holding or (b) in closest proximity to the infant. The data refuted the first prediction: There was no clear correlation between degree of relatedness and allomothering frequency (50% related = 18% of allomothering, 37.5% related = 64% of allomothering, 25% related = 5% of allomothering, 12.5% related = 12% of allomothering). However, the data did support the second prediction: Nulliparous females allomothered more than parous females (nulliparous = 77% vs. parous females = 23%; x2=77.56, p<0.0001). These results suggest that learning to mother is a greater motivation for allomothering than kin-selection. The development of cooperative care of offspring was a critical advancement in human evolution. Studies such as this can shed light on the motivations for such behavior.

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Nov 17th, 8:00 AM Nov 17th, 8:15 AM

Allomothering Among Captive Angolan Colobus Monkeys

C153

Allomothering, or the practice of caring for another individual’s infant, may be motivated by various forces. According to kin selection theory, individuals may increase their inclusive fitness by caring for offspring of close relatives. Furthermore, nulliparous females may increase their fitness by learning to mother through allomothering another female’s infant. This study sought to evaluate the relative strength of these motivations by testing two competing predictions: #1, If allomothering is motivated by kin selection, then close relatives will hold an infant more than distant relatives; #2, If allomothering is motivated by learning to mother, then nulliparous females will hold an infant more than parous females. The subjects of this study were eleven Angolan colobus monkeys, including one infant, at the San Diego Zoo. Colobus monkeys are a species of Old World primate that give birth to infants with white neonatal coats. This trait evolved in the context of alloparental care, making infants more attractive to other group members. Data were collected via focal animal sampling of individuals (a) holding or (b) in closest proximity to the infant. The data refuted the first prediction: There was no clear correlation between degree of relatedness and allomothering frequency (50% related = 18% of allomothering, 37.5% related = 64% of allomothering, 25% related = 5% of allomothering, 12.5% related = 12% of allomothering). However, the data did support the second prediction: Nulliparous females allomothered more than parous females (nulliparous = 77% vs. parous females = 23%; x2=77.56, p<0.0001). These results suggest that learning to mother is a greater motivation for allomothering than kin-selection. The development of cooperative care of offspring was a critical advancement in human evolution. Studies such as this can shed light on the motivations for such behavior.