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Concept: Squirrel monkey


Sensitivity to dependencies (correspondences between distant items) in sensory stimuli plays a crucial role in human music and language. Here, we show that squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) can detect abstract, non-adjacent dependencies in auditory stimuli. Monkeys discriminated between tone sequences containing a dependency and those lacking it, and generalized to previously unheard pitch classes and novel dependency distances. This constitutes the first pattern learning study where artificial stimuli were designed with the species' communication system in mind. These results suggest that the ability to recognize dependencies represents a capability that had already evolved in humans' last common ancestor with squirrel monkeys, and perhaps before.

Concepts: Human, Evolution, Species, Primate, Phylogenetic tree, Common descent, Human evolution, Squirrel monkey


Landscape genetic studies offer a fine-scale understanding of how habitat heterogeneity influences population genetic structure. We examined population genetic structure and conducted a landscape genetic analysis for the endangered Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) that lives in the fragmented, human-modified habitats of the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica. We analyzed non-invasively collected fecal samples from 244 individuals from 14 groups for 16 microsatellite markers. We found two geographically separate genetic clusters in the Central Pacific region with evidence of recent gene flow among them. We also found significant differentiation among groups of S. o. citrinellus using pairwise F(ST) comparisons. These groups are in fragments of secondary forest separated by unsuitable “matrix” habitats such as cattle pasture, commercial African oil palm plantations, and human residential areas. We used an individual-based landscape genetic approach to measure spatial patterns of genetic variance while taking into account landscape heterogeneity. We found that large, commercial oil palm plantations represent moderate barriers to gene flow between populations, but cattle pastures, rivers, and residential areas do not. However, the influence of oil palm plantations on genetic variance was diminished when we restricted analyses to within population pairs, suggesting that their effect is scale-dependent and manifests during longer dispersal events among populations. We show that when landscape genetic methods are applied rigorously and at the right scale, they are sensitive enough to track population processes even in species with long, overlapping generations such as primates. Thus landscape genetic approaches are extremely valuable for the conservation management of a diverse array of endangered species in heterogeneous, human-modified habitats. Our results also stress the importance of explicitly considering the heterogeneity of matrix habitats in landscape genetic studies, instead of assuming that all matrix habitats have a uniform effect on population genetic processes.

Concepts: Genetics, Biology, Primate, Population genetics, Oil palm, Costa Rica, Central American Squirrel Monkey, Squirrel monkey


The evolution ofAluelements has been ongoing in primate lineages andAluinsertion polymorphisms are widely used in phylogenetic and population genetics studies.Alusubfamilies in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri), a New World Monkey (NWM), were recently reported. Squirrel monkeys are commonly used in biomedical research and often require species identification. The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) Perform locus-specific PCR analyses on recently integratedAluinsertions inSaimirito determine their amplification dynamics, and 2) Identify a subset ofAluinsertion polymorphisms with species informative allele frequency distributions between theSaimiri sciureusandSaimiri boliviensisgroups.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Evolution, Biology, Primate, Allele frequency, Simian, Squirrel monkey


Months after the occurrence of spinal cord dorsal column lesions (DCLs) at the cervical level, neural responses in the hand representation of somatosensory area 3b hand cortex recover, along with hand use. To examine whether the second-order spinal cord pathway contributes to this functional recovery, we injected cholera toxin subunit B (CTB) into the hand representation in the cuneate nucleus (Cu) to label the spinal cord neurons, and related results to cortical reactivation in four squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis) at least 7 months after DCL. In two monkeys with complete DCLs, few CTB-labeled neurons were present below the lesion, and few neurons in the affected hand region in area 3b responded to touch on the hand. In two other cases with large but incomplete DCLs, CTB-labeled neurons were abundant below the lesion, and the area 3b hand cortex responded well to tactile stimulation in a roughly somatotopic organization. The proportions of labeled neurons in the spinal cord hand region reflected the extent of cortical reactivation to the hand. Comparing monkeys with short and long recovery times suggests that the numbers of labeled neurons below the lesion increase with time following incomplete DCLs (<95%) but decrease with time after nearly complete DCLs (≥95%). Taken together, these results suggest that the second-order spinal cord pathway facilitates cortical reactivation, likely through the potentiation of persisting tactile inputs from the hand to the Cu over months of postlesion recovery.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, Cerebral cortex, Somatosensory system, Primate, Proprioception, Squirrel monkey, Dorsal column nuclei


Integration between ecology and biogeography provides insights into how niche specialization affects the geographical distribution of species. Given that rivers are not effective barriers to dispersal in three parapatric species of squirrel monkeys (Saimiri vanzolinii, S. cassiquiarensis and S. macrodon) inhabiting floodplain forests of Central Amazonia, we tested whether forest structure and tree diversity may explain species differences in niche specialization and spatial segregation. We sampled 6617 trees of 326 species in three habitats (high várzea, low várzea and chavascal) used by three Saimiri species, and estimated tree species richness in each of them. For each tree, we measured variables known to influence habitat use in primates, such as crown area and presence of lianas, epiphytes and hemi-epiphytes. We used ANOVA to compare these variables and performed multivariate analyses (NMDS, ANOSIM and SIMPER) to evaluate dissimilarities in forest structure among each habitat inhabited by the three Saimiri species. We identified differences in the tree species richness, crown area and presence of lianas, epiphytes and hemi-epiphytes between the three habitats for all Saimiri species. NMDS demonstrated that areas of high and low várzeas occupied by S. vanzolinii were clearly separated from the other species. We also found that different plant species contributed to dissimilarity among Saimiri ranges. Our findings support the hypothesis that tree community structure may promote niche specialization and spatial segregation among primates. We discuss how these patterns could have been favored by historical changes in forest flood patterns, the evolutionary history of Saimiri spp., and past competition.

Concepts: Plant, Primate, Tropical rainforest, Monkey, Squirrel monkey, Cebidae, Squirrel monkeys, Black Squirrel Monkey


Personality has been studied in all of the great apes, many Old World monkey species, but only a handful of New World monkey species. Because understanding the personalities of New World monkeys is crucial to understanding personality evolution in primates, we used the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire to assess personality in 55 common squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) and 40 Bolivian squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis). We found 4 personality components in each species, and labeled them Openness, Neuroticism, Assertiveness, and Agreeableness. We then, in a genus-level analysis, found 5 components, which we labeled Neuroticism, Openness, Assertiveness, Agreeableness, and Decisiveness. Comparisons of the genus- and species-level structures revealed that common squirrel monkeys had a personality structure that more closely resembled the genus-level structure than did Bolivian squirrel monkeys. We then compared the personality structures of common and Bolivian squirrel monkeys with that of brown capuchin monkeys, Sapajus apella. The personality structure of Bolivian squirrel monkeys more closely resembled that of brown capuchins. These findings suggest that the Bolivian squirrel monkey personality structure is ancestral and that Assertiveness and Openness are ancestral to both the Saimiri genus and brown capuchins; Agreeableness and Neuroticism seem to be derived in Saimiri. We discuss these findings in relation to differences in the social structures and ecologies of these species. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Primate, Ape, Capuchin monkey, Haplorrhini, Monkey, Squirrel monkey, Cebidae, Squirrel monkeys


We describe morphological and morphometrical characteristics of preantral ovarian follicles from three recently recognized Saimiri species: S. macrodon, S. cassiquiarensis and S. vanzolinii; the last one a threatened species. Ovaries from four adult monkeys were evaluated: one pair from a pregnant S. macrodon, two ovarian pairs from S. cassiquiarensis females (one of them pregnant), and one left ovary from a senile S. vanzolinii, applying classical histology. Follicular preantral population was quantified and morphology and morphometry of primordial, primary and secondary follicles were evaluated. Follicular preantral population varied among species, being 347,153 in the ovaries of the S. macrodon, 270,342 and 278,376 in the ovaries of both adult non-pregnant and pregnant S. cassiquiarensis females, and 28,149 in the ovary from a senile S. vanzolinii. Most follicles were at primordial or transition stages, except for the senile S. vanzolinii female, which presented the lowest percentages of primordial and transition follicles when compared with primary and secondary ones. Most preantral follicles (>70%) were morphologically normal in the ovaries from all studied S. macrodon and S. cassiquiarensis females, but the ovary of the senile S. vanzolinii female presented a significant decrease in the percentage of normal follicles (primordial: 61%, transition: 52%, primary: 54%, and secondary: 48%). In general, follicular diameter increased significantly from primordial to transition, and subsequently from primary to secondary follicles.

Concepts: Ovarian follicle, Ovary, Monkey, Squirrel monkey


The Saimiri sciureus represents a valuable resource for biomedical research, due to its large number on primate centers and similarity to human anatomy and physiology. The aim of this study was to apply the method proposed by Buchanan & Bücheler in healthy squirrel monkeys (S. sciureus) and determine by radiographic examination, the average value of the vertebral heart size (VHS) for the specie.

Concepts: Biology, Physiology, Organ, Primate, Anatomy, Human anatomy, Squirrel monkey, Squirrel monkeys


Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.) have been widely used as animal models; however, the occurrence of Staphylococcus sp in their vaginal microbiota remains to be described.

Concepts: Bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Primate, Squirrel monkey, Squirrel monkeys


Ovarian agenesis is an unusual anomaly with traumatic or congenital origin. In the present case report, we describe our findings in a senile S. vanzolinii female. As this neotropical primate species is listed as vulnerable, with limited geographic distribution in the Brazilian Amazonia, ovarian agenesis may be an important finding to be reported.

Concepts: Time, Human, Endangered species, Primate, Squirrel monkey, Cebidae, Squirrel monkeys, Black Squirrel Monkey