Diet and travel costs for Spider Monkeys in a nonseasonal, hyperdiverse environment

Source: International Journal of Primatology, vol 27, nr 2, 2006
The effects of a nonseasonal environment with a high diversity of plant species in a community of white-bellied spider monkeys in the Yasuní National Park, Ecuador were studied.
During ten 2-wk follows of focal individuals of white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) across 1 yr, 1268 h of observation data were collected on ranging and foraging. The environment had strong effects on both the foraging and ranging behavior of the monkeys. Yasuní spider monkeys are similar to spider monkeys in more seasonal environments in that ripe-fruit consumption dominates the diet. However, Yasuní spider monkeys exhibit an extremely diverse diet that parallels the variety of foods available to them, consuming more than 238 species of fruits. The impressive dietary variety increased even more with increased observation time. 40% of the fruit species the subjects consumed during the final follow were not previously observed in the spider monkeys’ diet. Ripe fruits remain the most important item in the diet year-round, supplemented with decayed wood or leaf flush. Local rarity of plant species means that fruiting patches are an average of 420 m apart, and mean patch residence times are short, only 8.1 min. Visits to an average of 11.5 feeding patches/d lead to a mean daily path length of 3311 m, longer than reported for any other Ateles species, and long compared to most other primate species. The long daily paths of Yasuní spider monkeys reflect travel costs resulting from foraging in a hyperdiverse nonseasonal environment.

Title: Diet and Travel Costs for Spider Monkeys in a Nonseasonal, Hyperdiverse Environment

Author: Scott A. Suarez