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Ecological and social constraints on maternal investment strategies

Kenyatta, Catherine Georgia; (1995) Ecological and social constraints on maternal investment strategies. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study investigates the ecological and social constraints that act upon female reproductive strategies in a population of olive baboons (Papio cynocephalus anubis). Data were collected on three groups during a thirteen month field study (August 1993-August 1994) in Laikipia, Kenya. A model of maternal time allocation developed by Altmann (1980) was not found to fit the pattern of feeding time observed in this population and the deviations from its predictions were discussed. The slow growth rate and long period of infant dependence in primates mean that flexible strategies of maternal care have developed, and several mechanisms by which mothers may decrease their energetic requirements are suggested. The increased use of resting time was proposed to be a compensatory strategy used to lower energetic demands. The high level of infant mortality during the study period was discussed in relation to maternal investment decisions. Females were shown to draw on their body reserves during lactation, and infant mortality in this population appears to be most strongly related to recent reproductive history of females. The transition to independence by infants was related to maternal investment patterns. Differences in resource abundance were directly linked to differences in the trajectory of independent energy acquisition and locomotion, and this resulted in lactation being extended and pregnancy delayed. This was discussed in relation to an adaptive feedback mechanism, whereby female fecundity is regulated according to levels of food abundance. Mothers were approached more, had a larger number of neighbours and received more grooming than other females. Females were shown to decrease the diversity of social partners when social time became limited and individuals were shown to decrease the evenness of their interactions as troop size increased. Infant handling and female-female aggression seen during this study were not found to be consistent with hypotheses concerning reproductive competition. Environmental factors were concluded to be the primary determinant of female investment strategies in this population.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Ecological and social constraints on maternal investment strategies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099868
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