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A comparative study of litter size and sex composition in a large dataset of callitrichine monkeys


Abstract

In many birds and mammals, the size and sex composition of litters can have important downstream effects for individual offspring. Primates are model organisms for questions of cooperation and conflict, but the factors shaping interactions among same-age siblings have been less-studied in primates because most species bear single young. However, callitrichines (marmosets, tamarins, and lion tamarins) frequently bear litters of two or more, thereby providing the opportunity to ask whether variation in the size and sex composition of litters affects development, survival, and reproduction. To investigate these questions, we compiled a large dataset of nine species of callitrichines (n = 27,080 individuals; Callithrix geoffroyi, Callithrix jacchus, Cebuella pygmaea, Saguinus imperator, Saguinus oedipus, Leontopithecus chrysomelas, Leontopithecus chrysopygus, Leontopithecus rosalia, and Callimico goeldii) from zoo and laboratory populations spanning 80 years (1938-2018). Through this comparative approach, we found several lines of evidence that litter size and sex composition may impact fitness. Singletons have higher survivorship than litter-born peers and they significantly outperform litter-born individuals on two measures of reproductive performance. Further, for some species, individuals born in a mixed-sex litter outperform isosexually-born individuals (i.e., those born in all-male or all-female litters), suggesting that same-sex competition may limit reproductive performance. We also document several interesting demographic trends. All but one species (C. pygmaea) has a male-biased birth sex ratio with higher survivorship from birth to sexual maturity among females (although this was significant in only two species). Isosexual litters occurred at the expected frequency (with one exception: C. pygmaea), unlike other animals, where isosexual litters are typically overrepresented. Taken together, our results indicate a modest negative effect of same-age sibling competition on reproductive output in captive callitrichines. This study also serves to illustrate the value of zoo and laboratory records for biological inquiry.

Abstract

In many birds and mammals, the size and sex composition of litters can have important downstream effects for individual offspring. Primates are model organisms for questions of cooperation and conflict, but the factors shaping interactions among same-age siblings have been less-studied in primates because most species bear single young. However, callitrichines (marmosets, tamarins, and lion tamarins) frequently bear litters of two or more, thereby providing the opportunity to ask whether variation in the size and sex composition of litters affects development, survival, and reproduction. To investigate these questions, we compiled a large dataset of nine species of callitrichines (n = 27,080 individuals; Callithrix geoffroyi, Callithrix jacchus, Cebuella pygmaea, Saguinus imperator, Saguinus oedipus, Leontopithecus chrysomelas, Leontopithecus chrysopygus, Leontopithecus rosalia, and Callimico goeldii) from zoo and laboratory populations spanning 80 years (1938-2018). Through this comparative approach, we found several lines of evidence that litter size and sex composition may impact fitness. Singletons have higher survivorship than litter-born peers and they significantly outperform litter-born individuals on two measures of reproductive performance. Further, for some species, individuals born in a mixed-sex litter outperform isosexually-born individuals (i.e., those born in all-male or all-female litters), suggesting that same-sex competition may limit reproductive performance. We also document several interesting demographic trends. All but one species (C. pygmaea) has a male-biased birth sex ratio with higher survivorship from birth to sexual maturity among females (although this was significant in only two species). Isosexual litters occurred at the expected frequency (with one exception: C. pygmaea), unlike other animals, where isosexual litters are typically overrepresented. Taken together, our results indicate a modest negative effect of same-age sibling competition on reproductive output in captive callitrichines. This study also serves to illustrate the value of zoo and laboratory records for biological inquiry.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, birth sex ratio; callitrichine; litter size; sibling competition; studbook
Language:English
Date:1 September 2019
Deposited On:27 Apr 2020 15:33
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 15:04
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0275-2565
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23038
PubMed ID:31389057

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