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Laboratory simulations of mate-guarding as a component of the pair-bond in male titi monkeys, Callicebus cupreus

  • Author(s): Fisher-Phelps, ML
  • Mendoza, SP
  • Serna, S
  • Griffin, LL
  • Schaefer, TJ
  • Jarcho, MR
  • Ragen, BJ
  • Goetze, LR
  • Bales, KL
  • et al.

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© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mate-guarding and territorial aggression (both intra- and inter-sexual) are behavioral components of social monogamy seen in male coppery titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) both in the field and in the laboratory. Methodology for studying these behaviors in captivity facilitates the translation of questions between field and laboratory. In this study, we tested whether exposure to a mirror would stimulate mate-guarding behavior in male titi monkeys, and whether this exposure was accompanied by hormonal changes. Eight males were exposed to a mirror condition (treatment) or the back of the mirror (control) for five sessions, and behavioral responses were filmed. Blood samples were taken to measure levels of cortisol, oxytocin, and vasopressin. Lipsmacks (P<0.0001), arching (P<0.0001), tail-lashing (P=0.009), restraining (P=0.015), and approaches to the female (P=0.0002) were all higher during the mirror condition, while tail-twining tended to decline during the mirror condition (P=0.076). Hormones did not vary by experimental treatment, but were correlated with certain behaviors during the presentation of the mirror. While social behaviors changed with mirror exposure, self-directed and mirror-guided behaviors did not, indicating a lack of self-recognition. Use of a mirror was a safe and effective means of investigating mate-guarding behavior in response to a simulated intrusion, with the added benefit of not needing another animal to serve as an intruder; and thus may be of use in providing a laboratory model for natural behavior. Especially, as it eliminates the need for a stimulus animal, it would also be of possible use in investigating responses to a simulated intruder in wild populations of titis and other pithecines.

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