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monogamy and fertility

Owl monkey research suggests it’s a good idea to be monogamous

Recent research published in the online journal PLOS ONE has revealed just how important monogamy may be, by suggesting that couples who remain faithful may have up to 25 per cent more offspring.

Associate Professor Eduardo Fernandez-Duque of the University of Pennsylvania and his team have been studying owl monkeys in the Chaco region of Argentina since 1997.

Although this species is usually socially monogamous, the team found that these pair bonds among the monkeys can be volatile, with 'floater' individuals sometimes initiating fights and breaking up pairings.

However, the scientists also found that break-ups come at a cost - the animals that remained with just one partner produced 25 per cent more offspring every ten years than those who enjoyed monkey love with more than one partner.

Professor Fernandez-Duque said that these findings could have implications for human relationships and fertility in people, as well as monkey pair bonds.

"Call it love, call it friendship, call it marriage, there is something in our biology that leads to this enduring, emotional bond between two individuals that is widespread among human societies," he added.

"Monogamy makes sense for these primates, because the male who sticks to a female is certain about the paternity of the young, and so he invests in their care."

The results of the research suggest that the evolution of pair bonds may have improved reproductive fitness in the monkeys and may also suggest why monogamy has developed among humans.

Professor Fernandez-Duque added: "What we're showing is that if you manage to stay with the same partner you produce more infants than if you're forced to change partners."