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Vervet Monkey Grandmothers: Effects On Mother-Infant Relationships

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Mother-infant behaviour among captive socially-living vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) was studied throughout the first six months of the infants' live for 21 dyads with maternal grandmothers present in the group and 15 dyads without grandmothers. The presence of a grandmother significantly influenced the mother-infant relationship. In dyads with grandmothers, mothers were less protective: they spent less time in contact with their infants, were less restrictive of their infant's movements, and played a lesser role in establishing and maintaining contact, compared to dyads without grandmothers. Infants with grandmothers were more independent: they spent more time away from their mothers (beyond 1 meter) and actively approached and left their mothers at an earlier age, compared to infants without grandmothers. These results demonstrate that grandmothers have an important and continuing effect on their adult daughter's behavior and reproduction.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024, U.S.A.


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