Trait variation and trait stability in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) inhabiting ecologically distinct habitats in northeastern Brazil

Paul A. Garber, Christini B. Caselli, Anna C. McKenney, Filipa Abreu, Maria Fernanda De la Fuente, Arrilton Araújo, Maria de Fatima Arruda, Antonio Souto, Nicola Schiel, Júlio César Bicca-Marques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the set of factors that promote and constrain a species’ ability to exploit ecologically distinct habitats is central for addressing questions of intraspecific variability in behavior and morphology. In this study, we compared newly collected data with published data on body measurements, group size and composition, daily path length, home range, and reproductive output in wild common marmosets naturally inhabiting two contrasting environments in northeastern Brazil: the Atlantic Forest (AF), which is characterized by high biodiversity and reduced seasonality in food availability and the Caatinga (CAT), which is characterized by a severe hot and dry season lasting from 5 to 11 months, drought-resistant plant species, and reduced primary productivity. Despite marked differences in ecological conditions, CAT marmosets and AF marmosets differed minimally in daily path length, home range, reproductive output, and infant survivorship. CAT marmosets were found to live in smaller groups containing fewer adult females than AF marmosets, and also were characterized by a greater surface area to body mass ratio, a trait that may represent an adaptation to the hot and dry conditions of the Caatinga. We propose that in conjunction with body mass reduction, minor adjustments in behavior, the exploitation of cacti as a source of water and nutrients, and access to exudates as a dependable year-round food resource, common marmosets successfully used the same adaptive pattern to maintain high reproductive output and infant survivorship in exploiting these two ecologically distinct environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23018
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Atlantic forest
  • Caatinga
  • intraspecific variability
  • phylogenetic constraints
  • surface area to body mass ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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