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Progressive parenting behavior in wild golden lion tamarins


  • Lisa G. Rapaport


Young primates in the family Callitrichidae (the marmosets and tamarins) receive extensive and relatively prolonged care from adults. Of particular note, callitrichid young are routinely provisioned until well after weaning by parents and helpers, which is in stark contrast to typical juvenile primates, who must acquire most of their food independently once they are weaned. Adults of some callitrichid species produce a specialized vocalization that encourages immature group members to take proffered food from the caller. Here, I report that wild adult golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) not only used this food-offering call to encourage young, mobile offspring to approach and take captured prey from them, but as the young began to spend significant time foraging for themselves and to acquire prey by independent means, the frequency of these vocalizations in the context of food transfer declined. Adults then began to use food-offering calls in a novel context: to direct juveniles to foraging sites that contained hidden prey that the adults had found but not captured. During the period of these most frequent adult-directed prey captures, the independent prey-capture success rates of juveniles improved. Thus, adults modified their provisioning behavior in a progressive developmentally sensitive manner that may have facilitated learning how to find food. I hypothesize that as a result of these demonstrations by adults, juveniles either may be encouraged to continue foraging despite low return rates or to learn the properties of productive prey-foraging substrates in a complex environment. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa G. Rapaport, 2011. "Progressive parenting behavior in wild golden lion tamarins," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(4), pages 745-754.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:745-754

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    1. Bates, Douglas & M├Ąchler, Martin & Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steve, 2015. "Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 67(i01).
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