Male Care Of Infants In A Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) Population Including Socially Monogamous And Polyandrous Groups

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan Lappan PhD, Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: While male parental care is uncommon in mammals, siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) males provide care for infants in the form of infant carrying. I collected behavioral data from a cohort of five wild siamang infants from early infancy until age 15–24 months to identify factors affecting male care and to assess the consequences of male care for males, females, and infants in a population including socially monogamous groups and polyandrous groups. There was substantial variation in male caring behavior. All males in polyandrous groups provided care for infants, but males in socially monogamous groups provided substantially more care than males in polyandrous groups, even when the combined effort of all males in a group was considered. These results suggest that polyandry in siamangs is unlikely to be promoted by the need for “helpers.” Infants receiving more care from males did not receive more care overall because females compensated for increases in male care by reducing their own caring effort. There was no significant relationship between indicators of male–female social bond strength and male time spent carrying infants, and the onset of male care was not associated with a change in copulation rates. Females providing more care for infants had significantly longer interbirth intervals. Male care may reduce the energetic costs of reproduction for females, permitting higher female reproductive rates.

Additional Information

Lappan, S. Male care of infants in a siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) population including socially monogamous and polyandrous groups. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62, 1307–1317 (2008). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2008
Parental care, Siamang, Symphalangus syndactylus, Social monogamy, Facultative polyandry

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