Social and seasonal influences on reproductive biology in male moustached tamarins (Saguinus mystax)

P. A. Garber, L. Moya, J. D. Pruetz, C. Ique

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19 Scopus citations


In several primate taxa there is evidence that the social and physical environment can exert a significant effect on reproductive behavior and biology. In this paper we examine social and physiological factors influencing group composition and reproduction in free-ranging moustached tamarin monkeys (Saguinus mystax mystax). This species is characterized by cooperative care of the young and a breeding system that includes both polyandrous and polygyandrous matings. Body measurements collected on adult males residing in multimale groups indicate marked within-group differences in testes volume. In 12 of 17 groups examined, testes volume of at least two resident adult males differed by 21-174%. Among these males, testes volume was not correlated with either body weight or adult age class. We also examine whether factors such as time of year had an effect on reproductive condition. An analysis of body measurements of 128 adult male and 127 adult female moustached tamarins, wild-trapped and released in northeastern Peru, indicates cyclic changes in genital size. For males, mean monthly testes volume in July (712 mm3) was twice that recorded in June (351 mm3). Females exhibited a similar pattern. Although endocrine information on intra- and intersexual social effects on fertility are unavailable for S. mystax, given the high degree of social cooperation and lack of overt aggression among adult male group members, we offer the possibility that resident male moustached tamarins compete for access to the groups' lone breeding female through socially induced reproductive suppression and sperm competition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Male reproductive strategies
  • Saguinus mystax
  • Social environment
  • Testes volume


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