I started the Owl Monkey Project in 1996 because I was interested in finding an adequate model to study the evolution and maintenance of monogamy, pairbonds and parental care. Owl monkeys live in social groups that include one pair of reproducing adults and between one and four young. It was usually assumed that mates paired for life, but more recently we have learned that adults of both sexes are replaced regularly and violently by incoming adults. The males are the main providers of infant care making them also a good model to explore the evolution of alloparental care. Visit the Owl Monkey Project’s website (Proyecto Mirikiná) and learn more about the behavioral, demographic, genetic and hormonal studies we are conducting in Formosa, Argentina.
Since 2002, I have been conducting behavioral and ecological research with my friend and colleague Dr. Anthony Di Fiore in the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon Rainforest of Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. Collaborating with the Owl Monkey Project in Argentina, we are collecting data on three monogamous cebid primates – owl monkeys (Aotus vociferans), titi monkeys (Callicebus discolor), and saki monkeys (Pithecia aequatoralis) – to understand the socioecology of monogamy in New World primates. The goal is to evaluate the relative importance of paternal care, food resource distribution, and male and female reproductive strategies in favoring the evolution and maintenance of monogamy in primates.
Red Howlers of Venezuela
For 30 years, Dr. Rudy Rudran and collaborators monitored a population of red howlers (Alouatta seniculus) in the Hato Masaguaral of Venezuela. The data set on polygynous red-howlers consists of monthly records on group composition and structure of between 15-36 troops during almost 30 years (ca. 900 sexed and identified individuals). Now that we have already published some first demographic analyses, I am interested in testing some long-standing predictions regarding sex differences in life-history traits, reproductive success, rate of development and senescence. The polygynous howlers offer a wonderful opportunity for comparisons with the monogamous taxa.