Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts





First Advisor

Jill D. Pruetz


Adaptions to arboreal habitats result in species-specific patterns of locomotion and postures in non-human primates. Having a range of positional behaviors enables spider monkeys (Ateles spp.) to manage the varying aspects of habitat structure that may hinder their access to preferred food sources, escape predators and myriad of other challenges to an arboreal primate. This study presents new data on the positional behavior and habitat use of black-handed spider monkeys (A. geoffroyi) living in lowland tropical rainforest in northeastern Costa Rica, a habitat that is common for the species but where they are not well-studied due to the challenges of this wet environment. The contexts of travel and foraging were compared to observe context-specific postural and locomotor behaviors. Comparisons of locomotor and postural behaviors between contexts approached significance when all individuals were analyzed as a whole. However, results did not reveal significant differences between sexes or age-classes within these contexts. This may be indicative of the value of certain positions when exploiting the environment, regardless of sex or age-class. This study also included data on a one-armed juvenile male spider monkey (JF) to observe his varied use of postural and locomotor modes when compared to the A. geoffroyi at the site with all functioning limbs. Overall, his positional behavior appears to mimic that of the other spider monkeys, though results reveal behaviors unique to JF, as well. JF adjusted to accommodate his missing limb in ways to improve his efficiency during daily activities, such as decreasing use of positions involving the forelimbs. Aspects of social behavior were recorded, as well, to assess JF’s social development in comparison to others in his age-class, though the sample size was small. Few encounters yielded social data on JF or other juvenile males, but in interactions with adult males, all of the immature monkeys exhibited similar behavior.


Copyright Owner

Nicole Wackerly



File Format


File Size

125 pages