Author(s): Ziegler TE, Prudom SL, Zahed SR
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Abstract Infant survival and wellbeing is dependent upon good parenting skills. In some species of primates, fathers are necessary to ensure both positive developmental and social outcomes for their offspring. Common marmosets and the related cotton-top tamarin monkeys provide extensive paternal care of multiple offspring and are essential for infant survival. However, we have found significant variation in a father's motivation to respond to infant stimuli. Additionally, marmoset males who are experienced fathers are significantly more motivated to respond to infants and infant stimuli than adult males who have yet to be fathers. Expectant fathers appear to be preparing for their energetic role in infant care by responding with increases in multiple reproductive hormones and showing weight gain during their mate's pregnancy. Male marmosets have been shown to be hormonally responsive to scent signals. Males show increased testosterone shortly after smelling periovulatory scents and lower levels of testosterone following presentation of their own infant's scent. These two inverse testosterone responses combined indicate that paternal males have a flexible system of responding to socially relevant odor cues. Thus males can be ready to mate when their mate is fertile while continuing to be responsive to their infants when these two events occur simultaneously. A male's hormonal and physical responsiveness to parenting may be due to pair bonding between the male and his mate. Examining the variability between males in their behavioral, physical, and hormonal responses to their mate's pregnancy, and infant stimuli provides the means for determining the mechanisms of good parenting in fathers.
This article was published in Am J Hum Biol
and referenced in Journal of Primatology