Reproductive biology of a tropical procyonid, the white-nosed coati

  • Binczik G
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Abstract

Some 80% of the world's mammals reside in the tropics, but few---and almost no longlived---species there have been subjects of reproductive research. This study contributes detailed information on the reproduction of a long-lived procyonid carnivore, the white-nosed coati ( Nasua narica ), in Tikal National Park, Guatemala. Whereas most tropical mammals display broad reproductive seasonality (e.g. , producing offspring within a six-month period) or reproduce year-round, the coati exhibits extraordinarily tight timing in reproductive events. In Tikal mating took place within about two weeks in the middle of the dry season, births occurred in a comparably short period at that season's end, and young emerged from nests and began foraging alongside adults early in the wet season. When the timing of parturition was examined in more detail, the interquartile range ( i.e. , middle 50%) for females from three social groups spanned only five and six days in consecutive years, and the mean birthdates in those years differed by only six days. The male coati has responded to reliable clustering of female receptivity by evolving a rut more akin to that of many ungulate species than to the pattern of any other carnivore species yet examined. Coati reproduction is timed such that the young are weaned over an extended period coincident with the season of greatest food availability. Leaf litter invertebrates and fruits figure prominently in the coati diet, but the former are evidently most important. Notable among these are insects, and in Tikal especially the scarab beetle Enema endymion ; adults and larvae of tells one species accounted for 8.6% of all invertebrates consumed by coatis over the course of this study. Communal care and predator swamping were explored as alternative explanations for the coati's remarkable reproductive pattern, but these hypotheses were rejected. Exactly how the coati achieves such tight reproductive seasonality remains unknown, but a prediction based on the hypothesis that sociality plays a role was upheld. Social cues exchanged among associates are presumably used by the coati to augment the weak environmental cues ( e.g. , photoperiod) upon which seasonally reproducing tropical species must otherwise rely.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 0329:Ecology
  • 0433:Anatomy & physiology
  • 0433:Animals
  • 0472:Zoology
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological sciences
  • Birth synchrony
  • Ecology
  • Nasua narica
  • Procyonid
  • Reproductive biology
  • Tropical
  • White-nosed coati
  • Zoology

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Authors

  • Gerald Allen Binczik

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