Navigation Links
Competition between females leads to infanticide in some primates
Date:6/8/2011

An international team of scientists, with Spanish participation, has shed light on cannibalism and infanticide carried out by primates, documenting these acts for the first time in the moustached tamarin (Saguinus mystax). The mothers, which cannot raise their infants without help from male group members, commit infanticide in order to prevent the subsequent death of their offspring if they are stressed and in competition with other females.

"Infanticide is an extreme behaviour, and in most species is used by males to eliminate competitors and make females become sexually receptive more quickly", Yvan Lledo-Ferrer, one of the authors of this study and a researcher in the Psychobiology Department at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and at the German Primate Centre, tells SINC.

However, in callithrix primates (the primate family that Saguinus mystax belongs to), it is the females that perpetrate infanticide. "Genetic analysis enabled us to show that the mothers themselves take the lives of their own offspring", says Lledo-Ferrer.

The study, which has been published in the journal Primates, observed three different groups of moustached tamarins in the Peruvian forest from 1999 to 2008 in order to determine how help from male members of the group and the absence of competition between females helped to ensure the survival of infants.

The results show that 75% of infants survive when at least three males are helping, but only 41.7% survive if the group has one or two male helpers. With regard to competition with other females, 80% of infants die at less than three months of age if there are two gestating females in the group. This figure falls to 20% if there is only one reproductive female.

Unexpected observations

The scientists were surprised when four infants died within the space of a year and the autopsies carried out did not reveal any pathology that would have compromised their survival. In only one of the unexpectedly observed deaths did the mother kill her own offspring. The rest died "without any help".

"Normally, if infants fall to the forest floor from a height, the group keeps picking it up until the infant no longer has the strength to hold on to its carrier's back. At that point they abandon it on the ground. However, in one of these cases the mother killed her own offspring without it having followed the normal pattern of falling to the ground", the expert explains.

The researchers say that reproductive dominance is not well established in cases where infanticide takes place, and there is competition between females to occupy the dominant position. "This competition leads to high levels of prenatal stress, which can affect the foetus and therefore the viability of the offspring and the mother's milk production", the Spanish scientist points out.

Mothers kill infants that have poor prospects for survival due to the social make-up of the group (low number of helpers and the presence of another gestating female). In the cases observed, "the mother consumed her offspring's brain, thereby obtaining a high-quality supplementary source of nutrients, which somewhat offsets those invested during gestation", says Lledo-Ferrer.

One of the explanations for these acts is that the callithrix are a very unusual kind of primate. They have a cooperative baby care system, in which all the members of the group participate, and raising infants is an "extremely" costly activity the whole group must work together in order to for it to be successful.

In this family of primates, only one female can successfully reproduce in each group, while the rest inhibit their ovulation. They have a six-month gestation period.


'/>"/>

Contact: SINC Team
info@agenciasinc.es
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Gold nanostars outshine the competition
2. Collegiate Inventors Competition recognizes top student inventors
3. Gender biases in leadership selection during competitions within and between groups
4. Study shows competition, not climate change, led to Neanderthal extinction
5. NTU undergrad is first Singapore champion of an internationally acclaimed engineering competition
6. Leading research agencies announce new international competition: "The digging into data challenge"
7. WWF seeks innovative solutions to bycatch through worldwide competition
8. New York, Florida schools win awards at national student competition
9. Fertilization intensifies competition for light and endangers plant diversity
10. Parascript Technology Wins Online Signature Verification Competition
11. Plants prefer their kin, but crowd out competition when sharing a pot with strangers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Competition between females leads to infanticide in some primates
(Date:1/27/2016)... , Jan. 27, 2016  Rite Track, Inc. a ... West Chester, Ohio announced today ... service staff, based in Austin, Texas ... ability to provide modifications, installations and technical support offerings ... CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS has provided world class ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... January 21, 2016 ... new market research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), Services, ... forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ... reach USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, at a ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... , Jan. 15, 2016 Recent publicized ... small to find new ways to ensure data security ... iOS and Android that ties ... biometrics, transforming it into a hardware authorization token. Customer ... swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled device to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... -- NX Prenatal Inc., a US based molecular ... early warning of adverse pregnancy outcomes, announced today ... Dr. Thomas McElrath of Brigham & ... (SMFM) annual meeting held in Atlanta ... presentation reported initial positive top-line results regarding the ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... -- IsoRay, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ISR), a medical technology company ... for the treatment of prostate, brain, lung, head and ... for the second quarter and six months of fiscal ... --> --> Revenue was $1.19 ... ended December 31, 2015, a 12% increase compared to ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 10, 2016 , ... Benchmark Research, a fully-integrated network of ... long-standing principal investigators (PI) to the roles of Chief Medical Officer, Clinical Research ... Laurence Chu, a Benchmark Research PI in the Austin office, will assume the ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 2016 , ... SonaCare Medical, LLC reports the introduction of ... monitoring. The inaugural launch of this new technology occurred over the course of ... to a HIFU technical expert at SonaCare Medical headquarters. , Sonalink allows ...
Breaking Biology Technology: