Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Helper at the Nest Among Nonhuman Primates

  • Eckhard W. HeymannEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3626-1


A helper is an individual that contributes to breeding by conspecifics through providing alloparental care. The helper may be nonreproductive, or its own reproduction may have failed.


In the majority of primate species, infant care is provided solely by mothers, although other group members may interact with infants and carry them for short periods. In some pair-living primates, social/genetic fathers may provide paternal care. Particularly in night monkeys and titi monkeys, males are the principal infant carriers, while the contribution by helpers is negligible (Huck and Fernandez-Duque 2012). Regular helping behavior through transport of and food sharing with infants occurs in marmosets and tamarins, of the New World primate family Callitrichidae. Callitrichids (except Goeldi’s monkey) are characterized by flexible mating systems, including polyandry (particularly in tamarins), monopolization of reproduction by a single female per group, and twin births...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Ecology & SociobiologyDeutsches Primatenzentrum – Leibniz-Institut für PrimatenforschungGöttingenGermany