Abstract # 1082 Poster # 59:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: (Cambridge/Oxford Room) Poster Presentation


FOOD SELECTION BY BLACK HOWLERS (Alouatta pigra) IN THE CALAKMUL REGION IN MEXICO

A. Rivera and S. Calmé
ECOSUR, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Avenida Centenario Km. 5.5, Chetumal, Quintana Roo 77900, Mexico
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     Although Mexico harbors approximately 80% of the distribution of A. pigra, it is the least studied of the three primate species occurring in this country. In Mexico, most forests occur as remnants in fragmented landscapes that offer both a reduced and disturbed space where monkeys have fewer opportunities to choose. If we succeed in determining which trees the monkeys select for feeding, this should enable us to assess the quality of their habitat. Here we report the diet of black howlers in the region of Calakmul, Mexico. The study was conducted in the dry and rainy season totalling 3152 feeding records. To determine how monkeys select the trees, we established parcels of 10m radius around the trees where the majority of members of a focal troop was feeding. Within parcels, we determined the diameter, height, species and phenology of all trees >10 cm dbh. Tukey-Kramer tests showed that unused trees were significantly shorter (12m) than trees used for feeding (18m). Similarly, diameter was significantly larger in consumed trees (95cm) than in unused trees (13cm). We suggest that within suitable habitats, the characteristics of the feeding trees are a significant factor leading to diet selection. In terms of forest management, this has implications for the conservation of howlers, since larger trees are usually the target of timber harvest .