In some not-so-field-field-news, those of us in Formosa have just returned from Buenos Aires where we attended a conference hosted by the AABA, La Asociación de Antropología Biológica Argentina, or, The Association of Argentine Biological Anthropology.
In the four day series of lectures, posters, and discussion, we were immersed in a conference similar to its U.S. or European counterparts, but with a focused look at research in Latin America.
The Argentinian primatologists were out in force. We heard talks such as, Pseudocópulas entre hembras de Alouatta caraya del nordeste argentino (Pseudo-copulations between females of Alouatta caraya of the northwest of Argentina) and Cebus y su linaje fantasma (Cebus and its ghost lineage). A special treat, Dr. Theodore “Tad” Schurr of the University of Pennsylvania was there to give a feature lecture on his genetics research exploring the peopling of the Caribbean.
Fortunately, the owl monkeys were well represented. PhD candidate Maggie Corley gave a talk she titled, Relationship between group size and natal dispersion in owl monkeys (Relación entre el tamaño del grupo y la despersión natal en los monos mirikiná). Impressively, Maggie spoke entirely in Spanish, fielding audience questions as well. Research assistants Katherine Morucci and Avery Twitchell-Heyne collaborated with Maggie, Dr. Maren Huck, and Dr. Fernandez-Duque to develop this research project and presentation.
The OMP talk addressed the timing of when young owl monkeys decide to leave their groups for good. At some point young owl monkeys will, without fail, permanently depart their groups, but this can happen anywhere between the ages of two and five. This phenomenon is known as dispersal. Maggie showed data that pointed to a strong trend: lots of these adolescents (47%) dispersed during the spring months. For this species, spring time is the small window for giving birth. Turning to the long-term data, it turns out that the bigger the group is, the more likely an individual is to disperse, but only if there was a birth that spring. So one factor seems to be how crowded things are, and a new baby makes for a very busy home.
Another factor was the presence of a “step-parent.” When a new adult replaces a teenage monkey’s mom or dad (this species practices serial-monogamy), they’re even more likely to hit the road during this window. Not only that, these spring dispersers were younger than their counterparts who left during the fall or spring, breeding season. So curiously, age only correlated with dispersal-season when a step-parent was around. [Read more about the impacts of adult replacements on off spring here]
Thanks AABA for a great week!