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Field studies of two species of baboons suggest that Altmann's model of maternal time budgets (1980, Baboon Mothers and Infants, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press) provides a good qualitative but a poor quantitative fit to observed changes in the time that mothers spend feeding across infant age. We suggest that the poor quantitative fit might be explained by the fact that food quality varies across time, so that females are forced to feed for longer to gain the same nutrient intake when quality is poor. The hypothesis was tested with data from both gelada baboons, Theropithecus gelada, and Altmann's own baboons, Papio cynocephalus, with rainfall and ambient temperature as indices of vegetation nutritional quality. The results confirm that a three-factor model incorporating infant age, rainfall in the 2 preceding months and current ambient temperature provides a significantly improved fit to the observed data. © 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Animal Behaviour

Publication Date





801 - 805