New Pub: Tamarin helminth survey

Primates, due to their longevity, take a great deal of time to understand. The same could be done within a matter of months for rodents, but to get baseline data on a wild primate, you have to really clock some hours. One of the neatest outcomes, therefore, is when all of that work pays off in the form of some interesting discoveries. And this is what happened on this particular publication, primarily led by the research of Gideon Erkenswick.

Parasites are ubiquitous within all wild primates, and simply hosting a parasite doesn’t actually make them ill. Our goal here was to establish what “normal” looked like for a wild tamarin. We worked for 30 group-years (a span of 3 calendar years) to examine 105 individuals (71 saddleback and 34 emperor tamarins) across a magnificent total of 288 hard-earned fecal samples.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.29.37 AM

Within these, we identified 10 parasite taxa by light microscopy after standard sedimentation/flotation techniques.

Here is a summary of our findings, as an excerpt from the paper:

“Of these taxa, none were host‐specific, Dicrocoeliidae and Cestoda prevalences differed between host species, Prosthenorchis and Strongylida were the most prevalent. Host age was positively associated with Prosthenorchis ova and filariform larva, but negatively with cestode and the Rhabditoidea ova. We detected no differences between expected and observed levels of co‐infection, nor between group size and parasite species richness over 30 group‐years. Logistic models of individual infection status did not identify a sex bias; however, age and species predicted the presence of four and three parasite taxa, respectively, with saddleback tamarins exhibiting higher PSR. Now that we have reliable baseline data for future monitoring of these populations, next steps involve the molecular characterization of these parasites, and exploration of linkages with health parameters.”


Erkenswick G., Watsa M, Gozalo A.S., A.S., Dudaie, S., Bailey, L., Muranda, K.S., Kuziez, A. and Parker, P.G. (2019). A multiyear survey of helminths from wild saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarins. Amer. J. Primatol. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.23063 

New Pub: Titi terrestriality

Every so often, you see a paper that appears to be put together by all the scientists in the world at once – and this felt a lot like one of those instances. This conglomeration of researchers has worked diligently on this manuscript for several years, coordinating across a large group efficiently and with nary a off-note in the entire process. Just that deserves applause!

We collaborated to collect data from 86 studies conducted in 65 different sites where the Callicebinae were found to be terrestrial (upon occasion). Within the group, terrestrial activity was recorded frequently for Callicebus and Plecturocebus spp., but rarely for Cheracebus spp. Across the board, these arboreal primates came to the ground to rest, as an anti-predator strategy, to eat soil (geophagy), to play and forage on terrestrial invertebrates and soil. The longer a researcher studied these animals, the more likely it was that they would observe terrestriality. Although it was difficult to identify patterns across so many disconnected studies, while keeping scientific rigor high, we did discover that unlike the other pitheciids, titi monkeys hit the floor rather a lot more than expected!

But, they’re not alone in this behavior – lots of other primates come to the ground despite being primarily arboreal:

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 11.00.10 AM.png

Please see the full paper for a lot more avenues of research! We also made the cover of this volume:)

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 11.03.26 AM


Souza-Alves JP, Watsa, M, 62 other authors & Barnett AA. (2019) Terrestrial behavior in titi monkeys (Callicebus, Cheracebus and Plecturocebus): Potential correlates, patterns and differences between genera. International Journal of Primatology. pp1-20.