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Mating and feeding competition in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus): the importance of short- and long-term strategies

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I investigate the ecological context of intergroup agonism (IGA) in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) to elucidate the roles of feeding and mating competition, explicitly exploring both long- and short-term competitive strategies. Short-term mating competition is not a major function of IGA in C. capucinus. Males were the primary participants in IGA, but did not attempt to prevent extra-group copulations by herding females, and there was no relationship between IGA rate and conception rate. Long-term mating competition, on the other hand, may be important: 41% of interactions were low intensity, as would be expected if males were assessing the composition of neighboring groups in anticipation of a takeover. However, 59% of intergroup interactions escalated to chases or physical contact and females were frequent participants in IGA, directing aggression at adults of both sexes and at juveniles. These findings are not consistent with male mating competition and, in conjunction with overlapping home ranges, high interaction rate, and a positive relationship between IGA rate and both food availability and fruit patch size, they indicate that intergroup feeding competition may be important for capuchins. However, interactions do not preferentially occur at food sources, suggesting that capuchins may gain long-term, rather than short-term, benefits from IGA.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA


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