Secondary transfer of adult mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) on Hacienda La Pacifica, Costa Rica: 1975-2009.
Natal emigration by male and female mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata), and subsequent immigration into breeding groups, is well documented for the free-ranging population on Hacienda La Pacifica, Costa Rica, but secondary transfer was considered rare (Glander in Int J Primatol 3:415-436, 1992). Population surveys in 1998 and 2006 caused us to question our assumptions and to re-evaluate our long-term data set from a post hoc perspective. We first identified all animals observed or captured as adults in more than one non-natal group anywhere in the population. We then systematically analyzed joining or leaving by adults in seven groups tracked for various times from 1975 to 2005 for patterns suggesting secondary transfer. Fourteen adults (nine females, five males) were found in two different non-natal groups as adults. In addition, one male and one female that became dominant and reproduced in their natal group later transferred to a second group, and one female was known to be a tertiary transfer. Data from the seven tracked social groups indicate that 35% of all the males and 29% of all the females were potential secondary transfers. In these groups, males leaving or joining was not associated with group size or absolute number of females. Females leaving or joining was not associated with group size or absolute number of males, but females left groups with more females and joined groups with fewer females. Both sexes left groups with unfavorable sex ratios for their sex and joined groups with sex ratios more favorable for their sex. Since a favorable sex ratio is associated with reproductive success in other howler populations, this suggests secondary transfer as a reproductive strategy. Other factors could also influence secondary transfer.
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