The thermal consequences of primate birth hour and its evolutionary implications

McFarland, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-9269, Henzi, S.P., Fuller, A., Hetem, R.S., Young, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-8919-2093 and Barrett, L., 2022. The thermal consequences of primate birth hour and its evolutionary implications. Biology Letters, 18 (1). ISSN 1744-9561

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Most primates, including humans, give birth during the inactive phase of the daily cycle. Practical constraints therefore limit our knowledge of the precise timing of nocturnal birth in wild diurnal primates and so limit our understanding of selective pressures and consequences. We measured maternal core body temperature (T b) across 24 births in a population of wild vervet monkeys using biologgers. We identified distinct perturbations in T b during the birth period, including declining T b during labour and the rapid recovery of T b post-parturition. Vervet monkeys typically gave birth during their inactive phase in synchrony with the nadir of the maternal nychthemeral T b rhythm but also showed remarkable inter-individual variability in their absolute T b during birth. Our findings support the view that selection may have favoured a nocturnal timing of primate birth to coincide with lower night-time T b and environmental temperatures, which improve thermal efficiency during birth.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Biology Letters
Creators: McFarland, R., Henzi, S.P., Fuller, A., Hetem, R.S., Young, C. and Barrett, L.
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Date: 26 January 2022
Volume: 18
Number: 1
ISSN: 1744-9561
Rights: © 2022 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 15 Feb 2022 16:25
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:25

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