Abstract # 95:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 10:45 AM-10:55 AM: Session 8 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


DIGESTIVE STRATEGIES TO COPE WITH LOW QUALITY DIETS IN FREE RANGING HOWLER MONKEYS (ALOUATTA PIGRA) INHABITING DIFFERENT DISTURBED HABITATS

F. C. Espinosa-Gomez1, L. T. Hernández-Salazar1, J. Morales-Mávil1 and J. C. Serio-Silva2
1Instituto de Neuroetología, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Veracruz A.P. 566, Mexico, 2Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Xalapa, Veracruz, México
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Ecological physiology examines how animals cope with changing environmental demands. In disturbed habitats primates may be forced to consume low-quality, high fiber food, and flexible digestive strategies have been recognized to play a key role in this context. We examined a total of four black howler monkeys Alouatta pigra (from two groups) which inhabit two different highly disturbed habitats in Balancán, Tabasco, México and measured their digestive efficiency (DE), transit time (TT), total transit time (TTT) and mean retention time (MRT) when they consumed the same natural diet as available in their respective habitats. We found an average MRT 36.9±7.4 hr, TT 22.7±0.8 hr and TTT 80±21 hr with a low-fiber diet containing 49.9% neutral detergent fiber (NDF). For the higher-fiber diet containing 62.14% NDF we found an average MRT 68.8 ±7 hr, TT 39±9.8 hr and TTT 124±1.4 hr. Although a long retention time influences and increases fermentation rates and overall digestibility, in this study dry matter DE was significantly lower [p<0.05] with the higher-fiber diet [69.73±17.7] than with the low fiber diet [84.72±8.35]. The results of this study indicate that howlers can cope with low quality diets available in perturbed habitats but with a high investment of digestion time and obtaining less assimilation of nutrients.