Abstract # 191:

Scheduled for Monday, September 21, 2009 10:00 AM-10:10 AM: Session 17 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


M. A. Norconk1, S. McGraw2 and B. W. Grafton1
1Kent State University, Dept. of Anthropology, Kent, OH 44242, USA, 2The Ohio State University

Seed predators are found in all major modern primate radiations. While seeds are an attractive resource nutritionally and the window of availability exceeds that of ripe fruit for most plant species, seed eaters must breech mechanical and/or chemical protections during seed handling and ingestion. We identified 31 species of primates among platyrrhines, colobines, papionins, and prosimians in which seeds represented at least 20% of the annual diet (some exceeding 80% of the diet in peak months). Nineteen plant families were common among these primates, with Euphorbiaceae and Fabaceae exhibiting particularly strong representation in numbers of species used. Xylopia (Annonaceae) was the only genus represented in the diets of primate seed predators worldwide. We also found several dental and masticatory adaptations that might aid in seed processing, including expansion of the surface area of cheek teeth, thickened enamel, buttressed mandibular symphyses, and enlargement of the mandibular corpus. However, no primates exhibited all of these morphological characteristics. Primates appeared to have converged on seed predation along four distinct pathways: 1) durophagy combined with terrestrial exploitation of post-dispersed seeds (Mandrillus and Cercocebus); 2) extractive foraging (Cebus apella, Daubentonia, Papio, and Theropithecus); 3) folivory (Colobines and Propithecus), or 4) sclerocarpic harvesting of seeds (pitheciins). In all primates except sakis-uakaris (pitheciins) and, perhaps members of the Cercocebus-Mandrillus clade, seed predation appears to be a secondary feeding adaptation.