Abstract # 2512 Event # 214:

Scheduled for Monday, September 21, 2009 01:30 PM-01:40 PM: Session 23 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Oral Presentation


THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTEIN AND FIBER IN THE DIET OF BLACK HOWLER MONKEYS (ALOUATTA PIGRA) IN A HURRICANE DAMAGED FOREST IN BELIZE.

A. M. Behie1, M. S. Pavelka1 and C. A. Chapman2
1Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2Department of Anthropology and Mcgill School of Environment, McGill University
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For folivores, the protein to fiber ratio of available leaves is known to predict biomass. Howler monkeys are the most folivorous New World monkey, however black howlers (Alouatta pigra) also ingest high percentages of ripe fruit. This study aims to determine if the protein to fiber ratio of available foods can accurately predict the density of black howlers living in a hurricane damaged forest, and to investigate the role of protein and fiber in the selection of food items. Behavioral data was collected from 4 monkey groups over 4 years and population density determined from true counts of the study site. Samples of ingested foods and samples of mature leaves from common trees were collected for nutritional analysis. We found that howler density could not be predicted by the protein to fiber ratio of mature leaves. We also found that howlers are not selecting food items with high protein to fiber ratios [Pearson correlation, p=0.28] and that the monkeys spent more time eating mature leaves and fruit which have significantly lower protein to fiber ratios than young leaves [ANOVA, p=0.001]. These results indicate that in this forest, the protein to fiber ratio of mature leaves does not predict density and is not playing a key role in food selection.