Abstract # 90:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 09:30 AM-09:40 AM: Session 8 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


HOW FRUITING FIG TREES AFFECT THE RANGING BEHAVIOR OF WILD WHITE-FACED CAPUCHINS (CEBUS CAPUCINUS) IN SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK, COSTA RICA

N. Parr, A. D. Melin and L. M. Fedigan
University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Primate group movements are driven primarily by resource acquisition. Free ranging animals are predicted to maximize their access to resources and minimize the energy output required to collect these resources. Fig trees are a keystone resource for many frugivores, fruiting asynchronously throughout the year and providing a frequent food source. Additionally, fig trees are often large enough to accommodate many monkeys simultaneously. We studied the ranging and foraging behavior of four groups of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica, January 2007-February 2009. Using a handheld GPS, we recorded group positions every half-hour and at sleep sites. When monkeys entered figs, we recorded the location of the tree, the species, phenology and the circumference at breast height. Day range lengths [n=122] were not affected by fig visitations [F(1,120)=0.08, n.s.] however, groups returned to previously visited areas more often [F(1,114)=6.14, p<0.02] and were more likely [F(1,191)=6.40, p<0.02] to remain in the same area of forest (i.e in and around the fig tree) on “fig days” than on days when figs were not visited. Thus, the presence of fruiting figs significantly altered the daily ranging patterns of capuchins. We suggest that figs, when they are available, are a highly influential resource, but that groups still need to range long distances to access other important areas such as water sources and sleep sites.