Cebus albifronswhite-fronted capuchin

Geographic Range

Cebus albifrons is found in northwestern South America, including Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, eastern Peru, and much of Amazonian Brazil (Hill, 1960).


White-fronted capuchins are found in rainforest habitats from sea-level to 2000 meters (Hill, 1960).

Physical Description

Cebus albifrons is one of the smaller species of the capuchin group. The head is small in comparison to the body and the torso is slender with long, narrow limbs. C. albifrons has a complex color pattern. Overall they are light brown on the back with a lighter ventral side, often in shades of yellow and red. Dorsal fur is long and soft, which contrasts to the short and coarser fur of the venter. The crown of the head has a round, dark patch. Females may have a tuft of hair anterior to this patch. The face is covered by sparse, pale colored hair under which the peach colored flesh is visible. A thin border of white surrounds the face. A stripe, slightly darker than the body color, runs parallel to the spine. The limbs are a range of yellows and red browns. Sexual dimorphism occurs in the species with the males being larger than the females, the tail of the male may be lighter at the tip. Seasonal coat changes can occur; in the dry season, the coat is overall paler, in the rainy season the coat darkens (Hill, 1960).

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    1100 to 3300 g
    38.77 to 116.30 oz


As in other Cebus species, C. albifrons does not appear to have a breeding season, though most births may coincide with the dry season (Nowak, 1991). Peak mating periods are determined by geographic location. Females in estrus actively respond to males who seek to mate. It appears that males may be able to detect females in estrus by chemical cues in her urine (Smuts et al., 1987).

Cebus albifrons gives birth to a single young every 1 to 2 years, with a gestation period of about 150 to 160 days. If the infant dies shortly after birth, the female mates in the next breeding season, but if the infant lives, the female postpones breeding an extra year in order to take care of the infant (Smuts et al., 1987).

  • Breeding interval
    Cebus albifrons gives birth to a single young every 1 to 2 years
  • Breeding season
    Peak mating periods are determined by geographic location.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    150 to 160 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    1310 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    1310 days

Infant care is not restricted to the maternal female in C. albifrons. Other group members will come to the aid of infants in distress and dominant males often care for infants. When infants are under 2 months old other females care for, nurse, and feed them (Smuts et al., 1987).

Males disperse from their natal group upon reaching sexual maturity, females remain with their natal group.

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents



Group size ranges from 15 to 35 members. Groups are typically led by a dominant male and female. Aggressive interactions constitute only about 10% of social interactions. White-fronted capuchins are highly social and spend a lot of time in reciprocal grooming, however, dominant males and females receive a large proportion of grooming and rarely groom other individuals (Smuts et al., 1987).

The small size of white-fronted capuchins makes them vulnerable to larger predators. These capuchins have adopted a loud alarm call which scares some predators off and may warn others in the group about the presence of predators (Smuts et al., 1987).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Fruit is the main food and is generally prefered over other available foods. C. albifrons occasionally eats insects or other small invertebrates. According to a year-long study in Peru's Manu National Park, white-fronted capuchins only seek out invertebrates when traveling to fruiting trees, or when droughts reduce fruit availability. Other food sources in times of drought include palm nuts, figs, and nectar. (Terborgh, 1992).

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • nectar

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

White-fronted capuchins help to disperse the seeds of fruits they eat in their feces. This may carry propagules to an area that might not normally be reached, far from the perimeter of the tree. (Terborgh, 1992).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None known, Cebus albifrons do not raid human food crops.

Conservation Status

Because they are restricted to rainforest habitats, populations of C. albifrons are threatened by habitat destruction due to logging and forest clearing. They are not currently endangered because their habitats continue to be fairly widespread and population numbers remain fairly high. White-fronted capuchins are also hunted for meat in some areas. While this hunting is not excessive and simply maintains the population at a slightly lower level, it is a potential threat (Smuts et al., 1987).

Other Comments

The social organization of the genus Cebus has been found to closely resemble that of old world monkeys. A 1966 study has proposed that this is the result of similar diets and risk of predation (Smuts, etal., 1987).


Michelle Mijal (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Hill, W. 1960. Primates, Comparative Anatomy and Taxonomy, IV Cebidae Part A.. London: The Edinburgh University Press.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Smuts, B., D. Cheney, R. Seyfarth, R. Wrangham, T. Struhsaker. 1987. Primate Societies. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Terborgh, J. 1992. Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest. New York: Scientific American Library.