Alloparenting, defined as care provided by individuals other than parents, is a universal behavior among humans that has shaped our evolutionary history and remains important in contemporary society. Human alloparenting takes place in the context of cooperative breeding, wherein individuals live in groups and coordinate their efforts to feed, care for, and protect young to which they themselves did not give birth. Alloparenting has a positive correlation with infant development. Although rare in primates, mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta Palliata) live in social groups where adults engage in alloparenting. Several females can help to look after a single baby, carrying it and grooming it. Young males are often not allowed to alloparent because they can sometimes harm the infants. Mother-infant interactions in A. palliata, such as infant riding, pushing away, sharing food, nursing, and eating on their own, have been observed. In social contexts where mothers interact with physical contact, it provides emotional confidence for both mother and infant, and induces a sense of individual agency. Whether alloparenting occurs in A. Palliata at La Selva Research Station is unknown. This research will investigate alloparenting at this site. I hypothesize that mother A. Palliata will let other group members interact with their infants. This study will take place at La Selva Research Station in May of 2022. La Selva Research Station is in the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica. It consists of old growth and new growth tropical wet forests. It is home to A. Palliata which are large and stocky with black fur, and most individuals have long, yellow, or brown fur. Adult females typically weigh 4 to 5 kg, and newborn infants weigh 0.4 kg and appear silver to golden brown. The average number of offspring is one, and the average gestation period is 186 days. Data will be collected daily using 1-minute instantaneous scan sampling. I will record the interactions between mother and infant, male and infant, and non-mother female infant, in grooming, carrying, sharing food, and resting, as well as infant solitary behavior. This data will be examined in the presence of alloparenting.
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