Paternal behaviour is critical for the survival of offspring in many monogamous species. Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) fathers spend as much or more time caring for infants than mothers. Expectant males of both species showed significant increases in weight across the pregnancy whereas control males did not (five consecutive months for marmoset males and six months for cotton-top tamarin males). Expectant fathers might be preparing for the energetic cost of fatherhood by gaining weight during their mate's pregnancy.
weight gain; paternal care; couvade; primates
Most primates are social species whose reproduction is influenced by their social relationships. The cotton-top tamarin, Saguinus oedipus, and the common marmoset, Callithrix jacchus, are cooperative breeding species where the family structure alters reproductive function in many ways. While primates receive social effects on reproduction via all sensory stimuli, the marmosets and tamarins are particularly influenced by olfactory/chemosensory stimuli. The olfactory sensory processing is the ‘social glue’ that keeps the family together.
This review describes a number of studies using the marmosets and tamarins at the University of Wisconsin to demonstrate how odor cues are used for altering reproductive function and dysfunction. Several key studies will be discussed to show the role of odor signaling of the female reproductive state. The suppressive effects of odors are mediated by priming odors and can cause a suppressive influence on ovulation in young females via their mother’s scents. Additionally, odor cues from the infant function as priming odors to ensure that fathers and mothers are present and receptive to their parental care duties. Neural pathways occur via the processing of priming odors that consequently stimulate alterations in the behavioral and endocrine response to the stimuli. The dynamics of the cooperative breeding system ensure that offspring have essential needs met and that they develop in a family environment. Olfactory communication plays a key role in maintenance of the social system of Callitrichid monkeys.
Marmosets are playing an increasingly large and important role in biomedical research. They share genetic, anatomical, and physiological similarities with humans and other primate model species, but their smaller sizes, reproductive efficiency, and amenability to genetic manipulation offer an added practicality. While their unique biology can be exploited to provide insights into disease and function, it is also important that researchers are aware of the differences that exist between marmosets and other species. The New World monkey family Callitrichidae, containing both marmoset and tamarin species, typically produces dizygotic twins that show chimerism in the blood and other cells from the hematopoietic lineage. Recently, a study extended these findings to identify chimerism in many tissues, including somatic tissues from other lineages and germ cells. This has raised the intriguing possibility that chimerism may play an increasingly pervasive role in marmoset biology, ranging from natural behavioral implications to increased variability and complexity in biomedical studies.
Using a quantitative PCR based methodology, Y-chromosomes can be reliably detected in the females with male fraternal twins allowing for a relative quantification of chimerism levels between individuals and tissues. With this approach in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), chimerism was detected across a broad array of tissues. Chimerism levels were significantly higher in tissues primarily derived from the hematopoietic lineage, while they were lower, though still detectable, in tissues with other origins. Interestingly, animals with a characteristic marmoset wasting disease show higher levels of chimerism in those tissues affected. Fibroblast cell lines from chimeric individuals, however, are not found to be chimeric themselves.
Taken together, the levels of chimerism in tissues of different origins coupled with other lines of evidence suggest that indeed only hematopoietic cell lineages are chimeric in callitrichids. The chimerism detected in other tissues is likely the result of blood or lymphocytic infiltration. Using molecular methods to detect chimerism in a tissue sample seems to have allowed a substantial increase in the ability to detect these minor cell populations.
Decision making often involves choosing between small, short-term rewards and large, long-term rewards. All animals, humans included, discount future rewards—the present value of delayed rewards is viewed as less than the value of immediate rewards. Despite its ubiquity, there exists considerable but unexplained variation between species in their capacity to wait for rewards—that is, to exert patience or self-control. Using two closely related primates—common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)—we uncover a variable that may explain differences in how species discount future rewards. Both species faced a self-control paradigm in which individuals chose between taking an immediate small reward and waiting a variable amount of time for a large reward. Under these conditions, marmosets waited significantly longer for food than tamarins. This difference cannot be explained by life history, social behaviour or brain size. It can, however, be explained by feeding ecology: marmosets rely on gum, a food product acquired by waiting for exudate to flow from trees, whereas tamarins feed on insects, a food product requiring impulsive action. Foraging ecology, therefore, may provide a selective pressure for the evolution of self-control.
temporal discounting; impulsivity; rate maximization; tamarins; marmosets
In cooperatively breeding groups of mammals, reproduction is usually restricted to a small number of individuals within the social group. Sexual development of mammals can be affected by social environment, but we know little regarding effects of the cooperative-breeding system on males. Cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus) offspring typically do not reproduce in their natal group, even though they may be physically mature. We examined neonatal and pubertal development in captive male cotton-top tamarins as an example of reproductive development within a cooperative-breeding system and to compare cotton-top tamarins with the general primate model. Puberty was characterized using both hormonal and physical measures. Data were collected on urinary levels of LH, testosterone (T), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), cortisol, and the ratio of DHT to T; testicular development; body weight; and breeding age. We determined that 1) pubertal LH secretion began at Week 37, 2) a surge of T secretion followed at Weeks 41–44, and 3) an increase in the metabolism of T to DHT may have occurred at an average age of 48.6 wk. Most of the rapid weight gain was completed by Week 24, before hormonal increases and rapid scrotal growth. We concluded that rapid pubertal testicular growth in captive cotton-top males was completed by an average 76 wk, but that completion of the individual pubertal spurt can occur between 56 and 122 wk. In a cooperative-breeding system, the opportunity for successful reproduction is dictated by the social environment, but we found no evidence that male offspring were developmentally suppressed in their natal social groups. Our findings suggest that puberty in male New World callitrichid primates occurs more quickly than puberty in Old World primates, even though both have similar patterns of development.
developmental biology; luteinizing hormone; puberty; steroid hormones; testis
Herpesvirus saimiri L-DNA sequences between 0.0 and 4.0 map units (4.5 kilobase pairs) are required for oncogenicity; these sequences are not required for replication of the virus. To investigate the basis for the lack of oncogenicity of mutants with deletions in this region and to study the function of this region, we developed a reliable system for in vitro immortalization by herpesvirus saimiri. In contrast to peripheral blood lymphocytes from cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) and owl monkeys (Aotus sp.), infection of peripheral blood lymphocytes from common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) in vitro with herpesvirus saimiri consistently yielded continuously growing lymphoblastoid cell lines. Such cell lines were established using strains of herpesvirus saimiri from group A and group non-A, non-B; however, repeated attempts to immortalize common marmoset peripheral blood lymphocytes using strains from group B were not successful. Common marmoset cell lines immortalized by herpesvirus saimiri were T12+, T8+, T4-, and B1-, indicating that they were derived from suppressor/cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Cell lines could not be established using the nononcogenic mutants 11att and S4, both of which were derived from the group A strain 11 virus. Strain 11att has a spontaneous deletion and S4 has a constructed deletion in the 0.0 to 4.0 map unit region. Constructed strains which had these deleted sequences restored did immortalize common marmoset peripheral blood lymphocytes. Thus, the nononcogenic deletion mutants are defective for immortalization. This system should facilitate attempts to define the sequences responsible for immortalization and to determine their function.
Oxytocin plays an important role in monogamous pairbonded female voles, but not in polygamous voles. Here we examined a socially-monogamous cooperatively breeding primate where both sexes share in parental care and territory defense for within species variation in behavior and female and male oxytocin levels in 14 pairs of cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), In order to obtain a stable chronic assessment of hormones and behavior, we observed behavior and collected urinary hormonal samples across the tamarins’ three week ovulatory cycle. We found similar levels of urinary oxytocin in both sexes. However, basal urinary oxytocin levels varied ten-fold across pairs and pair-mates displayed similar oxytocin levels. Affiliative behavior (contact, grooming, sex) also varied greatly across the sample and explained more than half the variance in pair oxytocin levels. The variables accounting for variation in oxytocin levels differed by sex. Mutual contact and grooming explained most of the variance in female oxytocin levels whereas sexual behavior explained most of the variance in male oxytocin levels. The initiation of contact by males and solicitation of sex by females were related to increased levels of oxytocin in both. This study demonstrates within-species variation in oxytocin that is directly related to levels of affiliative and sexual behavior. However, different behavioral mechanisms influence oxytocin levels in males and females and a strong pair relationship (as indexed by high levels of oxytocin) may require the activation of appropriate mechanisms for both sexes.
Oxytocin; affiliative behavior; cotton-top tamarins; monogamy; cooperative breeding; sex differences
Male cotton-top tamarins have been shown to be responsive to female scent cues of ovulation, and are known to actively participate in infant care during the time when their mates are fertile. We measured urinary androgen levels and glucocorticoids in seven father tamarins for the first month following the birth of infants to determine 1) whether male tamarins showed an androgen response to their mate’s postpartum ovulation, 2) when androgens rise relative to ovulation, 3) whether there is a glucocorticoid response, and 4) whether males alter their parenting behavior during their mate’s receptive period. All of the males showed a significant increase in urinary androgens prior to the female’s postpartum LH peak, which indicated ovulation. The hormonal increase, which included estradiol, occurred 3–7 days prior to the female’s LH peak at a time that coincided with the female’s follicular period. Corticosterone levels also peaked during that time, but did not correlate with androgen changes. Fathers did not alter their daily infant-carrying patterns relative to the androgen increase or at the time of the mate’s LH peak. We conclude that male cotton-top tamarins experience an increase in androgens that coincides with their mate’s postpartum ovulation, which ensures optimal fertility. However, this sexual communication does not alter father–infant interactions, which already occur at a high rate in this species.
cotton-top tamarin; androgens; glucocorticoids; chemical signaling; ovulation; parenting behavior
We examined changes in weight for 10 captive adult male cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) from before the birth of infants through the first 16 weeks of infant life. Compared to before birth, males weighed significantly less in Weeks 1–4, 5–8, and 9–12 following the birth. Weights in Weeks 13–16 did not differ significantly from prebirth weights. Maximum weight loss for individual males ranged from 1.3 to 10.8% of prebirth body weight. Males in groups with fewer helpers lost significantly more weight than ones in groups with more helpers. For the 3 males that had no helper other than their mates, weight loss was particularly striking, ranging from 10.0 to 10.8% of their prebirth body weight. These results suggest that caring for infants is energetically costly, and that in this cooperatively breeding species, the presence of more individuals to share the burden of infant carrying reduces the cost to individual caregivers.
cotton-top tamarin; Saguinus; cooperative breeding; weight loss; infant care
Bergmüller et al. (2007) make an important contribution to studies of cooperative breeding and provide a theoretical basis for linking the evolution of cooperative breeding with cooperative behavior. We have long been involved in empirical research on the only family of nonhuman primates to exhibit cooperative breeding, the Callitrichidae, which includes marmosets and tamarins, with studies in both field and captive contexts. In this paper we expand on three themes from Bergmüller et al. (2007) with empirical data. First we provide data in support of the importance of helpers and the specific benefits that helpers can gain in terms of fitness. Second, we suggest that mechanisms of rewarding helpers are more common and more effective in maintaining cooperative breeding than punishments. Third, we present a summary of our own research on cooperative behavior in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) where we find greater success in cooperative problem solving than has been reported for non-cooperatively breeding species.
Callitrichine primates (marmosets and tamarins) often remain in their natal groups beyond the time of sexual maturity. Although studies have characterized the development of female reproductive function in callitrichine offspring, less is known about the male reproductive development. To document reproductive development in male marmosets, we monitored urinary androgen (uA) excretion in males housed in a captive colony of white-faced marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi). Young male marmosets showed relatively low and stable rates of uA excretion early in life, with elevated production at the end of the juvenile period (9–10 months) and again at the onset of adulthood (16 months). uA levels of adult breeding males were also measured to compare to adult-aged sons. Although breeding males did have higher uA levels than their adult-aged sons, these differences did not reach conventional levels of significance. Evidence from some other reports has suggested that androgen levels of males in other species are influenced by social factors, such as the presence of a sexually receptive female or of dependent offspring. In this study, however, uA levels did not vary, based on their mothers’ pregnancy status or the presence of younger siblings in the natal group. Patterns of androgen excretion in the white-faced marmoset roughly reflect those of other callitrichine species. Furthermore, unlike callitrichine daughters, gonadal activity in sons does not seem to be sensitive to within-group social cues.
testosterone; male sexual development; pregnancy status; social status; younger siblings presence
Prolactin has been implicated in promoting paternal care behaviors but little evidence of causality has been found to date except for birds and fish. This study was designed to examine the possible causal relationships between prolactin and male parenting behaviors, reproductive hormones, and physical changes in cooperatively breeding common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus. Fifteen parentally experienced fathers were studied over three consecutive infant care periods during two weeks prior and three weeks following their mates' parturition under three treatment conditions: normal control pregnancy, decreased prolactin and elevated prolactin. The treatments significantly altered the serum prolactin levels in the fathers. Using three methods of determining a father's level of parental care: infant carrying, family effort and responsiveness to infant stimulus tests, we found that only the male response to infant stimuli was altered by the hormone treatments. Lowering prolactin significantly reduced male responsiveness to infant stimuli but elevating prolactin showed the same effect. Hormonal sampling indicated that testosterone levels showed an inverse relationship to prolactin levels during a normal peripartum period and prolactin treatment reduced this relationship. Prepartum estradiol levels were significantly elevated during the lowered prolactin treatment and estradiol was significantly lowered postpartum with the elevated prolactin treatment. Father's weight decreased significantly by the third week of infant care during the normal treatment. Males in the elevated prolactin treatment lost little or no weight from prepartum while in the lowered prolactin treatment showed the most weight loss. The present findings did not distinguish a direct causal relationship of prolactin on behavior in experienced fathers but did find an interaction with other hormones and weight gain.
prolactin; paternal care; infant responsiveness; testosterone; estradiol; common marmoset; weight gain
Approximately 3% of the world population is chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). GB virus B (GBV-B), a surrogate model for HCV, causes hepatitis in tamarins and is the virus phylogenetically most closely related to HCV. Previously we described a chimeric GBV-B containing an HCV insert from the 5′ noncoding region (NCR) that was adapted for efficient replication in tamarins (Saguinus species). We have also demonstrated that wild-type (WT) GBV-B rapidly adapts for efficient replication in a closely related species, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). Here, we demonstrate that the chimeric virus failed to adapt during serial passage in marmosets. The chimeric virus was passaged four times through 24 marmosets. During passage, two marmoset phenotypes were observed: susceptible and partially resistant. Although appearing to adapt in a resistant animal during a prolonged and gradual increase in viremia, the chimeric GBV-B failed to replicate efficiently upon passage to a naïve marmoset. The resistance was specific to the chimeric virus, as the chimeric virus-resistant animals were susceptible to marmoset-adapted WT virus during rechallenge studies. Three isolates of the chimeric virus were sequenced, and 20 nucleotide changes were observed, including eight amino acid changes. Three unique changes were observed in the 5′ NCR chimeric insert, an area that is highly conserved in HCV. We speculate that the failure of the chimeric virus to adapt in marmosets might be due to a bottleneck that occurs at the time of infection of resistant animals, which may lead to a loss of fitness upon serial passage.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) glycoprotein E2 binds to human cells by interacting with the CD81 molecule, which has been proposed to be the viral receptor. A correlation between binding to CD81 and species permissiveness to HCV infection has also been reported. We have determined the sequence of CD81 from the tamarin, a primate species known to be refractory to HCV infection. Tamarin CD81 (t-CD81) differs from the human molecule at 5 amino acid positions (155, 163, 169, 180, and 196) within the large extracellular loop (LEL), where the binding site for E2 has been located. Soluble recombinant forms of human CD81 (h-CD81), t-CD81, and African green monkey CD81 (agm-CD81) LEL molecules were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for binding to E2 glycoprotein. Both h-CD81 and t-CD81 molecules were able to bind E2. Competition experiments showed that the two receptors cross-compete and that the t-CD81 binds with stronger affinity than the human molecule. Recently, h-CD81 residue 186 has been characterized as the critical residue involved in the interaction with E2. Recombinant CD81 mutant proteins were expressed to test whether human and tamarin receptors interacted with E2 in a comparable manner. Mutation of residue 186 (F186L) dramatically reduced the binding capability of t-CD81, a result that has already been demonstrated for the human receptor, whereas the opposite mutation (L186F) in agm-CD81 resulted in a neat gain of binding activity. Finally, the in vitro data were confirmed by detection of E2 binding to cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) cell line B95-8 expressing endogenous CD81. These results indicate that the binding of E2 to CD81 is not predictive of an infection-producing interaction between HCV and host cells.
6 of 20 cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) inoculated with Epstein- Barr virus (EBV) developed diffuse malignant lymphoma resembling reticulum cell or immunoblastic sarcoma of man. Hyperplastic lymphoreticular lesions were induced in three additional animals; in two instances the hyperplastic lesions regressed. Inapparent infection with development of antibody occured in eight animals. In two animals there was no evidence of EBV infection. One animal died in the first week after inoculation of parasitic infection. 10 animals uninoculated or mock-inoculated developed neither lymphoproliferative disease nor antibody. The malignant lymphoma appeared to arise from a cell with an uncleaved vesicular nucleus found in the center of the germinal follicle. The prominent cytologic features of this cell were extensive formation or rough endoplasmic reticulum and elaboration of the cytoplasmic membrane with microvilli. Cell lines derived from these tumors did not have receptors for complement. IgFc, or sheep erythrocytes, and the cell lines adhered to glass and plastic. EB nuclear antigen was found in imprints of two lymph nodes, one with lymphoma and one with hyperplasia. EB virus DNA was detected directly in the tumors of three animals and in cell lines from two lymphomas. Typical herpes virus particles were found in supernatant fluids from cell lines obtained from lymph nodes with tumors and hyperplasia, as well as in lines derived from blood leukocytes of marmosets with inapparent infection. These virus preparations had the biologic property characteristic of EBV, namely, stimulation of cellular DNA synthesis and immortalization of human lymphocytes. The virus derived from two cell lines was neutralized by reference human sera with EBV antibody and not by antibody-negative human sera. The virus derived from the experimental lesions is thus indistinghishable from human EBV. The marmoset has enhanced susceptibility to oncogenesis by EB virus. Among identified factors which may play a role in the heightened tumorigenicity of EB virus in this species are the increased production of virus by transformed cells and the absence of membrane receptors for complement or IgFc on transformed cells.
Recognition of relatives is important for dispersing animals to avoid inbreeding and possibly for developing cooperative, reciprocal relationships between individuals after dispersal. We demonstrate under controlled captive conditions that cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) have a long-term memory for long calls of relatives from which they had been separated for periods ranging from 4 to 55 months. Tamarins responded with lower levels of arousal behavior to playbacks of long calls from current mates and from separated relatives compared to calls of unfamiliar, unrelated tamarins. Four animals had been out of contact with relatives for more than 4 years and still showed recognition as evidenced by low levels of arousal. Results could not be explained in terms of proximity to former relatives. Long-term memory for vocal signatures of relatives is adaptive and may be much more common than has been demonstrated.
cotton-top tamarins; vocalizations; long-term memory; relatives
Exposure to androgens during prenatal development shapes both physiological and behavioral developmental trajectories. Notably, in rhesus macaques, prenatal androgen exposure has been shown to increase rough-and-tumble play, a prominent behavioral feature in males during the juvenile period in primates. While macaques are an Old World, polygamous species with marked sexually dimorphic behavior, New World callitrichine primates (marmosets and tamarins) live in cooperative breeding groups and are considered to be socially monogamous and exhibit minimal sexual dimorphism in social play, which suggests that androgen may affect this species in different ways compared to macaques. In addition, we previously described considerable variation in maternal androgen production during gestation in marmosets. Here we tested the association between this variation and variation in offspring rough-and-tumble play patterns in both males and females. We measured testosterone and androstenedione levels in urine samples collected from pregnant marmoset mothers and then observed their offspring's play behavior as juveniles (5–10 months of age). In contrast to findings in rhesus macaques, hierarchical regression analyses showed that higher gestational testosterone levels, primarily in the second semester, were associated with decreased rough-and-tumble play in juveniles, and this relationship appears to be driven more so by males than females. We found no reliable associations between gestational androstenedione and juvenile play behavior. Our findings provide evidence to suggest that normative variation in levels of maternal androgen during gestation may influence developmental behavioral trajectories in marmosets in a way that contradicts previous findings in Old World primates.
Rough-and-tumble play; Prenatal programming; Androstenedione; Testosterone; Intrauterine environment; Maternal androgens; Organizational effects
GB virus B (GBV-B), a flavivirus closely related to HCV, has previously been shown to infect and replicate to high titers in tamarins (Saguinus sp.). This study describes the use of GBV-B infection and replication in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) for the successful development and validation of a surrogate animal model for hepatitis C virus (HCV). Infection of marmosets with GBV-B produced a viremia that peaked at 108 to 109 genome copies/ml for a period of 40 to 60 days followed by viral clearance at 60 to 80 days postinfection. Passage of the initial tamarin-derived GBV-B in marmosets produced an infectious stock that gave a more reproducible and consistent infection in the marmoset. Titration of the virus stocks in vivo indicated that they contained 1 infectious unit for every 1,000 genome copies. Cultures of primary marmoset hepatocytes were also successfully infected with GBV-B, with high levels of virus detected in supernatants and cells for up to 14 days postinfection. Treatment of GBV-B-infected hepatocyte cultures with a novel class of HCV protease inhibitor (pyrrolidine 5,5 trans-lactams) reduced viral levels by more than 2 logs. Treatment of GBV-B-infected marmosets with one such inhibitor resulted in a 3-log drop in serum viral titer over 4 days of therapy. These studies provide the first demonstration of the in vivo efficacy of a small-molecule inhibitor for HCV in an animal model and illustrate the utility of GBV-B as a surrogate animal model system for HCV.
Pregnancy and lactation produce a plethora of hormonal changes in females that promote maternal care of offspring. Males in the biparental marmoset species, (Callithrix jacchus), demonstrate high levels of parenting behaviour and express enhanced circulating reproductive hormones. Furthermore, these hormonal changes are influenced by paternal experience. In order to determine if the paternally experienced male marmoset has altered neurocrine hypothalamic release, as the maternal females does, we examined the release of several reproductive neurocrines, dopamine (DA), oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) and prolactin (PRL), in cultured explants of the hypothalamus of paternally experienced male marmosets compared with naïve, paternally inexperienced males. DA levels secreted from the isolated hypothalamus were significantly lower in the experienced males while OT and PRL levels were significantly higher than levels found in inexperienced males. PRL levels decreased rapidly in the hypothalamic media suggesting PRL production occurs elsewhere. AVP levels did not change. Stimulation of the cultured explants with oestradiol significantly decreased DA levels in the inexperienced males but did not alter the other neurocrines suggesting a direct effect of oestradiol on DA suppression in the hypothalamus. While other factors such as age and rearing experience with siblings may play a role in hypothalamic neurocrine levels, these results demonstrate that paternal experience may impact the secretion of neurocrines in a male biparental primate.
paternal experience; prolactin; OT; oestradiol; dopamine; vasopressin; hypothalamus
Sex allocation theory has been a remarkably productive field in behavioral ecology with empirical evidence regularly supporting quantitative theoretical predictions. Across mammals in general and primates in particular, however, support for the various hypotheses has been more equivocal. Population-level sex ratio biases have often been interpreted as supportive, but evidence for small-scale facultative adjustment has rarely been found. The helper repayment (HR) also named the local resource enhancement (LRE) hypothesis predicts that, in cooperatively breeding species, mothers invest more in the sex which assists with rearing future offspring and that this bias will be more pronounced in mothers who require extra assistance (i.e., due to inexperience or a lack of available alloparents). We tested these hypotheses in captive cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) utilizing the international studbook and birth records obtained through a questionnaire from ISIS-registered institutions. Infant sex, litter size, mother's age, parity, and group composition (presence of nonreproductive subordinate males and females) were determined from these records. The HR hypothesis was supported over the entire population, which was significantly biased toward males (the “helpful” sex). We found little support for helper repayment at the individual level, as primiparous females and those in groups without alloparents did not exhibit more extreme tendencies to produce male infants. Primiparous females were, however, more likely to produce singleton litters. Singleton births were more likely to be male, which suggests that there may be an interaction between litter size adjustment and sex allocation. This may be interpreted as supportive of the HR hypothesis, but alternative explanations at both the proximate and ultimate levels are possible. These possibilities warrant further consideration when attempting to understand the ambiguous results of primate sex ratio studies so far.
Helper repayment hypothesis; Saguinus oedipus; sex allocation; sex ratio
All female primates incur energetic costs associated with producing and caring for offspring, but females belonging to the New World primate family Callitrichidae, the marmosets and tamarins, appear to face even further demands. In fact, the energetic demands of rearing callitrichid infants are thought to have led to the evolution of cooperative infant care in these species. If this explanation is true, then one might expect that natural selection should also have shaped patterns of maternal behavior to be sensitive to the costs of reproduction and equipped females to reduce their investment in offspring under certain conditions. Therefore, we examined the maternal effort and postpartum endocrine profiles of individual female marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii) across conditions that represented two hallmarks of callitrichid reproduction—conception during the early postpartum period and alloparental assistance. When females conceived during the early postpartum period and faced the upcoming demands of caring for their newly conceived litters (Study 1), they significantly reduced their caregiving effort and had significantly higher postpartum levels of estradiol relative to breeding attempts in which conception occurred later in the postpartum period. Postpartum estradiol was negatively correlated with maternal carrying effort. When experienced alloparents were present (Study 2), females again reduced their caregiving effort relative to breeding attempts in which experienced alloparents were not present. Postpartum cortisol, however, did not vary as a function of experienced alloparental assistance. The results of these studies suggest that female marmosets have been subjected to similar selection pressures as females of other primate taxa—to maximize their reproductive success by reducing their investment in offspring under the worst and best of conditions—and suggest that hormones may mediate within-female variation in maternal care. These studies also provide support for the notion that mothers are “flexible opportunists” when it comes to providing care to their young.
Wied’s black tufted-ear marmoset; Callitrichidae; Maternal care; Postpartum conception; Lactation; Alloparental care
For conservation purposes, accurate methods are
required to track cotton-top tamarins in their natural habitat. As existing census methods are
not appropriate for surveying these monkeys, a lure-transect method combined with playback
vocalization was used here to allow accurate counting of the animals.
The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is a critically endangered primate,
endemic to the tropical forests of Colombia. Population monitoring is essential to evaluate
the success of conservation efforts, yet standard survey methods are ineffective because
animals flee silently before they are seen. We developed a novel technique that combines the
use of playbacks of territorial vocalizations with traditional transect surveys. We used
remote sensing to identify potential habitat within the species' historic range, and visited
the 27% that we could survey safely. Of this, only 99 km2 was extant forest,
containing an estimated 2,045 animals (95% confidence interval 1,587–2,634). Assuming
comparable densities in non-surveyed areas, approximately 7,394 wild cotton-top tamarins
remain in Colombia. With 20–30,000 animals exported to the United States in the late 1960s,
this must represent a precipitous decline. Habitat destruction and capture for the illegal
pet trade are ongoing. Urgent conservation measures are required to prevent extinction in
Worldwide, approximately 170 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and chronic infection frequently progresses to serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. GB virus B (GBV-B), the virus phylogenetically most closely related to HCV, causes hepatitis in tamarins. We have demonstrated the suitability of the tamarin as a host for GBV-B and as a surrogate nonhuman primate model for HCV infection, and we have initiated studies of GBV-B infection in a closely related species, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). Here, we demonstrate that marmosets exhibit two phenotypes upon infection with GBV-B: the susceptible phenotype and the partially resistant phenotype. In addition, we identify changes that may correlate with adaptation of the virus to the partially resistant host. GBV-B was serially passaged five times through 14 marmosets as one lineage and two times through 6 marmosets as a second lineage. Virus adapted to the marmosets and eventually exhibited robust infections in two separate lineages, lineages 1 and 2. A third lineage was initiated with a molecular clone, and again, susceptible and partially resistant phenotypes were observed. Three isolates were fully sequenced (from lineage 1), and 21 nucleotide changes were observed, with six amino acid changes. We speculate that the marmoset partially resistant phenotype may be due to a polymorphism in the marmoset population that affects critical virus-host interactions and that wild-type GBV-B is capable of rapidly adapting to this altered host.
The recent finding of a novel Epstein-Barr virus-related lymphocryptovirus (CalHV-3) in a captive colony of common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) in the United States modifies the view that the host range of lymphocryptovirus is restricted to humans and Old World primates. We investigated the presence of Epstein-Barr virus-related viruses in 79 samples of New World monkeys caught in the wild, including six species of the Cebidae family and one of the Callitrichidae, living in the rain forest of French Guiana. Using a degenerate consensus PCR method for the herpesvirus DNA polymerase gene, we identified three novel lymphocryptoviruses from golden-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas) of the Callitrichidae family and squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) and white-faced saki (Pithecia pithecia) of the Cebidae family. With the CalHV-3 strain, these three novel viruses constitute a well-supported phylogenetic clade in the Lymphocryptovirus genus, which is clearly distinct from the lineage of Old World lymphocryptovirus, hosted by catarrhine monkeys and humans. In tamarins, the prevalence of the novel lymphocryptovirus was more than 50%, indicating that it circulates well in the wild population, perhaps due to specific ecoethological patterns such as confrontations and intergroup migration. The detection and partial molecular characterization of the polymerase gene of three novel Gamma-1-Herpesvirinae from New World monkeys caught in the wild clearly indicate that free-ranging populations of platyrrhine are natural hosts of lymphocryptoviruses. Further characterization of these novel viruses will provide new insight not only into the origin and evolution of Gammaherpesvirinae but also into their pathogenicity.
The impact of the intrauterine environment on the developmental programming of adult female reproductive success is still poorly understood and potentially underestimated. Litter size variation in a nonhuman primate, the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus), allows us to model the effects of varying intrauterine environments (e.g. nutrient restriction, exposure to male womb-mates) on the risk of losing fetuses in adulthood. Our previous work has characterized the fetuses of triplet pregnancies as experiencing intrauterine nutritional restriction.
We used over a decade of demographic data from the Southwest National Primate Research Center common marmoset colony. We evaluated differences between twin and triplet females in the number of pregnancies they produce and the proportion of those pregnancies that ended in fetal loss. We found that triplet females produced the same number of total offspring as twin females, but lost offspring during pregnancy at a significantly higher rate than did twins (38% vs. 13%, p = 0.02). Regardless of their own birth weight or the sex ratio of the litter the experienced as fetuses, triplet females lost more fetuses than did twins. Females with a male littermate experienced a significant increase in the proportion of stillbirths.
These striking findings anchor pregnancy loss in the mother’s own fetal environment and development, underscoring a "Womb to Womb" view of the lifecourse and the intergenerational consequences of development. This has important translational implications for understanding the large proportion of human stillbirths that are unexplained. Our findings provide strong evidence that a full understanding of mammalian life history and reproductive biology requires a developmental foundation.