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Behaviour of nonhuman primate mothers toward their dead infants: uncovering mechanisms
Claire F. I. Watson, Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Behavioural responses to dead infants have been documented across many species yet remain poorly understood in all.

In our manuscript we review proposed explanations for behavioural responses to dead infants by nonhuman primate mothers and highlight quantitative data necessary to test these empirically.

The literature is dominated by relatively brief qualitative descriptions of isolated anecdotal cases, with very few reports containing quantitative coding or longitudinal analyses. Obtaining necessary data will depend on raised awareness of the importance of recording occurrences and knowledge of pertinent data to collect.

In this paper we encourage and facilitate quantitative approaches by providing a framework to inform future work.
We highlight behavioural variables to code in case reports and data to acquire longitudinally for systematic analyses of factors influencing behavioural responses to dead infants, particularly dead infant carrying. We also comment on stress and captive welfare in relation to dead infant carrying.

Bibliographic information

Royal Society Published 16 July 2018.
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0261

2018/07/30 Primate Research Institute