Demography and Life Histories of Sympatric Patas Monkeys, Erythrocebus patas, and Vervets, Cercopithecus aethiops, in Laikipia, Kenya

Mortality patterns are thought to be strong selective forces on life history traits, with high adult mortality and low immature mortality favoring early and rapid reproduction. Patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) have the highest potential rates of population increase for their body size of any haplorhine primate because they reproduce both earlier and more often. We report here 10 years of comparative demographic data on a population of patas monkeys and a sympatric population of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops), a closely related species differing in aspects of social system, ecology, and life history. The data reveal that 1) adult female patas monkeys have significantly higher mortality than adult female vervets; 2) infant mortality in patas monkeys is relatively low compared to the norm for mammals because it is not significantly different from that of adult female patas monkeys; and 3) infant mortality is significantly higher than adult female mortality in vervets. For both species, much of the mortality could be attributed to predation. An epidemic illness was also a major contributor to the mortality of adult female patas monkeys whereas chronic exposure to pathogens in a cold and damp microenvironment may have contributed to the mortality of infant vervets. Both populations experienced large fluctuations during the study period. Our results support the prediction from demographic models of life history evolution that high adult mortality relative to immature mortality selects for early maturation.