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I have recently published a new paper in Animal Behaviour with colleagues from Spain.

Asensio N, Zandono A, Cristobal-Azkarate J, Dunn J. 2022. Determinants of social play in adult howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata mexicana and A. p. palliata). Animal Behaviour.

This is the latest paper from our field site in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, where we have been carrying out research since 2005. The paper shows that adult howler monkeys use play to avoid conflict and reduce group tension, with levels of play increasing when they are faced with scarce resources.

We found that the amount of adult play is linked to the number of potential playmates, increasing in line with the size of the group. Adults spend more time playing with other adults, rather than juveniles, and adult females spend more time engaged in play than adult males. Crucially, play amongst adults seems to increase in line with time spent foraging on fruit. Overall, this tells us more about the drivers of play in adult animals – which has been little studied compared to studies of infants and juveniles.

You can download the paper from our Publications page, or using the link above. The paper was covered in the news, e.g., BBC, The Independent, Daily Mail (see Media for more details).

Thanks to Norber, Jurgi and Eugenia for being great co-authors!