Abstract # 3168 Poster # 83:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


POPULATION STRUCTURE, HABITAT USE AND DIET IN A SOUTHERN SEMI-DESERT VERVET MONKEY (CHLOROCEBUS AETHIOPS) POPULATION

G. M. Pasternak1,2, S. Kienzle1, L. Brown2, P. Clark2,3, L. Barrett1,2 and P. Henzi1,2
1University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1C1S4, Canada, 2Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Unit, University of South Africa, South Africa, 3Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, USA
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In southern Africa, the habitat tolerance of vervet monkeys let them penetrate markedly arid regions along riverine corridors. We are working on a semi-desert population in South Africa that comprises two troop categories. One set has territories in narrow bands of Acacia Karroo riverine woodland centered on rivers and relies for free water on intermittent river flow. We assume that these represent the historical population. The other lives away from the river, with individual troops tied to artificial waterholes. River troops (Mean=39.6) are both significantly larger than waterhole troops (Mean=12.1, t=6.52, 27df, p<0.001) and twice the mean size of other undisturbed vervet populations (mean=20.6, N=11). GPS data from two study troops (NA=48, NB=72) indicate annual territory sizes of 1.5km2 and 0.68km2. Adjusting for territorial overlap provides density estimates of 32.4 animals/km2 and 105.8 animals/km2 respectively. Despite these densities, and few food species (30 spp.), foraging time (Troop A = 28%; Troop B = 26.6%) is similar to the mean value recorded for vervets elsewhere (29.8%; N=14 populations). We attribute this to the availability of Acacia Karroo, whose asynchronous phenology provided 30% of the diet (gum, leaves, flowers, pods) throughout the year. We conclude that this population provides an excellent opportunity to assess the effects of large troop and cohort sizes on social dynamics in an environment where troop fission is difficult to accomplish.