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Development of sexual behavior in wild tufted Capuchin Monkeys: analysis of early sexual repertoire and homosexual behavior Sapajus libidinosus e S. xanthosternos

Grant number: 21/08153-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): November 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal researcher:Jaroslava Varella Valentova
Grantee:Irene Silvia Delval Demonte
Home Institution: Instituto de Psicologia (IP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The development of sexuality in human and non-human primates is an important topic, to understand the ontogenetic pathways of sexual behavior, but it is relatively understudied. Research with non-human primates shows that, even before birth, social and hormonal environments influence the development of species' typical sexual behavior. However, very little is known about these early sexual behaviors, their specific characteristics, or when and in what contexts they occur in most primate species. The present project aims to investigate the ontogeny of sexual behavior in two wild species of capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus and S. xanthosternos). Capuchin monkeys display great behavioral flexibility according to the environmental context. Thus, by comparing the development of sexuality in these populations of capuchin monkeys, we will empirically test hypotheses on the plasticity or robustness of sexual behavior, its function in social communication during infancy and its triggers. To achieve this goal, we will analyze frequencies of behaviors, throughout the first three years of life. We will compare within and between-subjects' behavioral frequencies over time, across different age ranges, and we will also compare the patterns observed between males and females, and between populations. We will further evaluate the preferred sexual contexts and partners, and whether these change over time. Studies on the ontogenesis of sexual behavior in Neotropical primates are, up to now, non-existent. Thus, the innovative aspect of this study guarantees highly impacted publications and international collaboration. The study of the development of sexuality can contribute to unraveling infantile sexuality, the plasticity of behavior and the natural diversity of sexual behavior. (AU)

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