Growth rates in a wild primate population: Ecological influences and maternal effects
Growth rate is a life-history trait often linked to various fitness components, including survival, age of first reproduction, and fecundity. Here we present an analysis of growth-rate variability in a wild population of savannah baboons (Papio cynocephalus). We found that relative juvenile size was a stable individual trait during the juvenile period: individuals generally remained consistently large-for-age or small-for-age throughout development. Resource availability, which varied greatly in the study population (between completely wild-foraging and partially food-enhanced social groups), had major effects on growth. Sexual maturity was accelerated for animals in the food-enhanced foraging condition, and the extent and ontogeny of sexual dimorphism differed with resource availability. Maternal characteristics also had significant effects on growth. Under both foraging conditions, females of high dominance rank and multiparous females had relatively large-for-age juveniles. Large relative juvenile size predicted earlier age of sexual maturation for both males and females in the wild-feeding condition. This confirmed that maternal effects were pervasive and contributed to differences among individuals in fitness components. © Springer-Verlag 2004.
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