Benefits to Female Helpers in Wild Rhinopithecus roxellana

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Abstract

To assess what female Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) gain from allowing others to care for their infants, we collected behavioral data on 12 mother-infant dyads at Zhouzhi National Nature Reserve in the Qinling Mountains, China. Mothers' feeding time significantly increased when infants were cared for by other group members versus when they were cared for by the mothers themselves. The time mothers spent autogrooming and receiving grooming also increased when they were temporarily relieved of maternal duties; however, mothers did not groom other individuals more when they were not encumbered by infants. There are several benefits that mothers gain from having helpers care for their infants: They gain more time to feed and thus increase their feeding efficiency. Mothers have more time to engage in hygienic and maintenance activities because they autogroom and receive allogrooming more. Lastly, mothers save energy when their infants are with helpers. Wild Sichuan snub-nosed monkey mothers meet their basic survival and maintenance needs because of helping behavior.

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