Maternal investment and offspring viability in vervet monkeys

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Varsanyi, Stephanie E.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology
Primate infants are dependent on their mothers for their early nutritional and social needs, which allows mothers to exert a large influence over their infant’s early development. Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) are seasonal breeders that produce cohorts of infants who experience similar ecological conditions but differing social conditions, as the latter reflect their mothers’ varying maternal attributes. Previous studies have supported a social hypothesis of infant survival in which differing maternal characteristics can predict an infant’s likelihood of survival and reproductive success. I examined differing maternal attributes and their influence on the survival and later growth of offspring over two consecutive developmental periods: birth to weaning, and the post-weaning juvenile period. I found that maternal attributes are not associated with infant survival or later infant growth in this population. Instead, the data presented here suggest that environmental conditions overwhelm maternal effort and greatly diminish the effect of maternal investment strategies.
vervet monkeys , infant survival , maternal investment , maternal health , offspring viability , environmental factors , maternal social standing , ecological conditions during growth , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Infancy -- Research , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Development -- Research , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Fieldwork , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Research , Parental behavior in animals , Nature and nurture , Cohort analysis , Dissertations, Academic