Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Owl Monkeys Who 'Stay True' Reproduce More Than Those With Multiple Partners

Jan. 23, 2013 — Breaking up is hard to do -- and can be detrimental to one's reproductive fitness, according to a new University of Pennsylvania study.

Focusing on wide-eyed, nocturnal owl monkeys, considered a socially monogamous species, the research reveals that, when an owl monkey pair is severed by an intruding individual, the mate who takes up with a new partner produces fewer offspring than a monkey who sticks with its tried-and-true partner.

The findings underscore how monogamy and pair-bonds -- relatively rare social formations among mammals -- can benefit certain individuals, with potential implications for understanding how human relationship patterns may have evolved.

Eduardo Fernandez-Duque and Maren Huck report on the research inPLOS ONE. Fernandez-Duque is an associate professor in Penn's Department of Anthropology. Huck completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Fernandez-Duque's laboratory and is now a professor at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom.

Since 1997, Fernandez-Duque and colleagues have monitored an owl monkey population in a portion of Argentina's Chaco region. Their behavioral observations, demographic data and physiological sampling have provided a wealth of information on the animals.

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