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Fallback foods of temperate-living primates: A case study on snub-nosed monkeys


Grueter, C C; Li, D; Ren, B; Wei, F; Xiang, Z; van Schaik, C P (2009). Fallback foods of temperate-living primates: A case study on snub-nosed monkeys. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140(4):700-715.

Abstract

Only a few primate species thrive in temperate
regions characterized by relatively low temperature,
low rainfall, low species diversity, high elevation,
and especially an extended season of food scarcity during
which they suffer from dietary stress. We present data of
a case study of dietary strategies and fallback foods in
snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) in the Samage
Forest, Northwest Yunnan, PRC. The snub-nosed monkeys
adjusted intake of plant food items corresponding
with changes in the phenology of deciduous trees in the
forest and specifically showed a strong preference for
young leaves in spring. A non-plant food, lichens (Parmeliaceae), featured prominently in the diet throughout the year (annual representation in the diet was about 67%)
and became the dominant food item in winter when palatable
plant resources were scarce. Additional highly sought winter foods were frost-resistant fruits and winter
buds of deciduous hardwoods. The snub-nosed monkeys’
choice of lichens as a staple fallback food is likely because of their spatiotemporal consistency in occurrence, nutritional and energetic properties, and the ease with which they can be harvested. Using lichens is a way to mediate effects of seasonal dearth in palatable plant foods and ultimately a key survival strategy.

Abstract

Only a few primate species thrive in temperate
regions characterized by relatively low temperature,
low rainfall, low species diversity, high elevation,
and especially an extended season of food scarcity during
which they suffer from dietary stress. We present data of
a case study of dietary strategies and fallback foods in
snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) in the Samage
Forest, Northwest Yunnan, PRC. The snub-nosed monkeys
adjusted intake of plant food items corresponding
with changes in the phenology of deciduous trees in the
forest and specifically showed a strong preference for
young leaves in spring. A non-plant food, lichens (Parmeliaceae), featured prominently in the diet throughout the year (annual representation in the diet was about 67%)
and became the dominant food item in winter when palatable
plant resources were scarce. Additional highly sought winter foods were frost-resistant fruits and winter
buds of deciduous hardwoods. The snub-nosed monkeys’
choice of lichens as a staple fallback food is likely because of their spatiotemporal consistency in occurrence, nutritional and energetic properties, and the ease with which they can be harvested. Using lichens is a way to mediate effects of seasonal dearth in palatable plant foods and ultimately a key survival strategy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:3 November 2009
Deposited On:17 Dec 2009 15:28
Last Modified:26 Jan 2017 08:45
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0002-9483
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21024
Official URL:http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122674121/PDFSTART

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