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Differences in Diet Between Spider Monkey Groups Living in Forest Fragments and Continuous Forest in Mexico

Summary: Differences in Diet Between Spider Monkey Groups Living in Forest Fragments
and Continuous Forest in Mexico
O´ scar M. Chaves1
, Kathryn E. Stoner, and V´ictor Arroyo-Rodr´iguez
Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Universidad Nacional Aut´onoma de Me´xico (UNAM), Antigua Carretera a Pa´tzcuaro No. 8701,
Ex Hacienda de San Jose´ de la Huerta, 58190 Morelia, Michoaca´n, Mexico
Forest fragmentation can lead to reductions in food availability, especially for some large-bodied tropical mammals such as spider monkeys. During a 15-mo period, we
assessed the diet of Geoffroyi's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) in continuous forest and fragments in the Lacandona region, southern Mexico, and related differences in
diet to differences in vegetation structure and composition. We found that both forest types presented top food species for monkeys (e.g., Spondias spp., Brosimum
alicastrum), but the sum of the importance value index of these species and the density of large trees were lower in fragments than in continuous forest. We also found
that, compared with continuous forest, monkeys in fragments diversified their overall diet, increased consumption of leaves, and reduced the time they spent feeding on
trees in favor of more time feeding on hemiepiphytes (particularly Ficus spp.) and palms, both of which were common in fragments. We attribute these changes to the
relative food scarcity of the most favored feeding plants in forest fragments. Overall, our findings suggest that monkeys are able to adjust their diet to food availability in
fragments, and thus persist in small- and medium-sized fragments. Although it is unlikely that the small size of two of the three study fragments (14 and 31 ha) can
maintain viable populations of monkeys in the long term, they may function as stepping stones, facilitating inter-fragment movements and ultimately enhancing seed
dispersal in fragmented landscapes.
Key words: dietary flexibility; food availability; fragmentation; habitat loss; Neotropical primates.
around the world are among main causes of the global decline in


Source: Arroyo Rodríguez, Víctor - Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology