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Child Dev. 1994 Aug;65(4):1028-41.

Responses of free-ranging rhesus monkeys to a natural form of social separation. I. Parallels with mother-infant separation in captivity.

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Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo 14261.


Observations of 23 free-ranging rhesus monkey infants on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico, indicated that mothers' first postpartum estrous periods were marked by large increases in the amount of time infants were separated from their mothers, by disturbances in mother-infant relationships, and by increases in infant distress behavior. When their mothers resumed mating, most infants showed signs of agitation; a few briefly showed indications of depression. Male infants responded to their mothers' resumption of mating by playing more, whereas females engaged in less play and more allogrooming. The results suggest (a) that basic parallels exist between the behavioral responses of rhesus infants to their mothers' resumption of mating in the field and to forcible separation from their mothers in captivity and (b) that early separation experiences may play a role in the normal development or manifestation of sex differences in behavior.

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