Is infant-carrying a courtship strategy in callitrichid primates?

Suzette D. Tardif, Karen Bales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Three predictions arising from the proposal that infant-carrying serves as a from of courtship in callitrichid primates were tested, using data from captive common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus and cotton-top tamarins, Saguinus oedipus. The first prediction, that males would be more likely to successfully copulate while carrying infants than while not carrying infants, was not supported in either species. In common marmosets, males were less likely to copulate while carrying infants. This relation may reflect the lower activity levels and increased vigilance required by those individuals transporting infants. The second prediction, that the overall percentage of time that males spent carrying infants would be related to overall frequency of copulations during fertile periods, was also not supported for either species. The third prediction was that, if females selected mates relative to their infant-care 'performance', males should be more solicitous of the breeding female's efforts to relinquish the infant to another carrier than to the efforts of other group members. If so, then males should retrieve harassed infants from mothers more frequently than from other group members; this prediction was not supported. The results of this study offer no support for the contention that infant care serves as a form of courtship in callitrichid primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1007
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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