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Am J Primatol. 1997;42(4):299-310.

Behavioral and endocrine characteristics of the reproductive cycle in wild muriqui monkeys, Brachyteles arachnoides.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706, USA.


The analysis of fecal ovarian steroids provides a powerful noninvasive method to obtain insights into ovulatory cycles, gestation length, and the timing of sexual interactions relative to the periovulatory period in wild primates. Techniques developed to collect and assay feces from free-ranging muriqui monkeys (Brachyteles arachnoides) for estradiol and progesterone yield the first explicit reproductive data on this species, and provide the first opportunity to evaluate the timing of observed copulations with muriqui ovarian cycles. Hormonal profiles from seven females indicate average cycle lengths of 21.0 +/- 5.4 days (n = 20). Females conceived after 3-6 ovulatory cycles. Gestation length averaged 216.4 +/- 1.5 days for the five females for which conception cycles were sampled. Discrete copulation periods spanned an average of 2.1 +/- 1.2 days (n = 29), with intervals between these concentrated periods of copulations averaging 15.6 +/- 6.7 days (n = 20). There were no significant differences among females in cycle lengths, copulation period lengths, or copulation interval lengths. Ejaculation was visible following 71.8 +/- 26.7% of copulations during the females preovulatory periods. All females copulated outside the periovulatory period. The proportion of copulation days outside the periovulatory period was slightly greater (p = 0.08) for primiparous females (64.8 +/- 28.3%) than for multiparous females (28.7 +/- 19.7%).

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