CAPUCHIN MONKEYS- Dry Season

Does this time of year find you irritable, lethargic, anxious for Spring? Well, you’re not alone. Today we’ll hear about the seasonal doldrums of a group of Capuchin monkeys. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is a Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of San Diego. This month, it’s the dry season in the rain forests of Venezuela where Lynne has been observing Capuchin Monkeys.

“Many of the tree species drop their leaves, the ground becomes hard and cracked, the grasses die back and what this means for the monkeys is that there’s much less food available. There aren’t so many fruits. The insects just aren’t available. So at this time of year you see a lot harder lifestyle. There’s a lot more arguments within the group. Fighting is very common. And for some groups of monkeys this is a time of year when they really need to conserve energy so they spend a lot of time resting and really trying not to do anything that’s energetically wasteful like traveling or a lot of social behavior– that drops out of the behavioral repertoire because they just don’t have the spare calories.”

It’s a particularly tough time of year for the female Capuchins.

“During the dry season is when they’re pregnant and so these females have to keep up their nutritional intake or they’re not going to have successful pregnancies. So how do they solve that problem is a real issue to me. How do they make it through the dry season with adequate food intake?”

One explanation may lie in the Capuchin’s social bonds which are dominated by females. It’s a system which allows female monkeys to look out for each other and warn off competitors.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

CAPUCHIN MONKEYS- Dry Season

A primatologist describes the seasonal doldrums of a group of Capuchin monkeys in Venezuela.
Air Date:02/10/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

Does this time of year find you irritable, lethargic, anxious for Spring? Well, you're not alone. Today we'll hear about the seasonal doldrums of a group of Capuchin monkeys. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is a Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of San Diego. This month, it's the dry season in the rain forests of Venezuela where Lynne has been observing Capuchin Monkeys.

"Many of the tree species drop their leaves, the ground becomes hard and cracked, the grasses die back and what this means for the monkeys is that there's much less food available. There aren't so many fruits. The insects just aren't available. So at this time of year you see a lot harder lifestyle. There's a lot more arguments within the group. Fighting is very common. And for some groups of monkeys this is a time of year when they really need to conserve energy so they spend a lot of time resting and really trying not to do anything that's energetically wasteful like traveling or a lot of social behavior-- that drops out of the behavioral repertoire because they just don't have the spare calories."

It's a particularly tough time of year for the female Capuchins.

"During the dry season is when they're pregnant and so these females have to keep up their nutritional intake or they're not going to have successful pregnancies. So how do they solve that problem is a real issue to me. How do they make it through the dry season with adequate food intake?"

One explanation may lie in the Capuchin's social bonds which are dominated by females. It's a system which allows female monkeys to look out for each other and warn off competitors.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.