Abstract # 13423 Event # 205:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2019 01:00 PM-01:25 PM: (Room 325/326) Oral Presentation


TRAITS, TOOLS AND TRADITIONS IN PRIMATE FEEDING ECOLOGY

M. A. Norconk
Department of Anthropology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA
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     Wild primates exhibit a tremendous array of feeding adaptations, and primatologists have been invested in learning about them for decades. Early descriptive research has given way to experimental techniques to some degree, but we still rely on the collection of day-long, detailed information by observing individual primates. In addition to basic strategies of data collection, multiple levels of inquiry have emerged to study nutrition and the chemical characteristics of foods; food preferences; the mechanical properties of foods; and studies of the evolution of traits that facilitate chewing and digestion. As primarily consumers of plants that have evolved strategies to protect fruit and leaves, it is apparent that primates make complex choices about which items to eat and which to avoid, how to judge the preferred degree of ripeness, and how to find the next feeding tree. Finally, we use explanatory models derived from evolutionary, cognitive and ecological theory (e.g., optimal foraging theory, Liem’s paradox, use of fallback foods, sexual selection) as well as materials and nutrition science to interpret inter- and intra-specific variability in feeding behavior. Using my experience as a feeding ecologist, I will provide a historical perspective and discuss new directions in the field.