Abstract # 135:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 03:45 PM-04:00 PM: Session 19 (Auditorium) Oral Presentation


MAKING IT IN “THE REAL FLORIDA”: THE RHESUS MACAQUES OF SILVER RIVER, FLORIDA

E. P. Riley and T. W. Wade
Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-6040, USA
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     The Florida Park Service’s mission is to maintain sites of rich cultural and natural heritage where visitors can experience “the Real Florida.” At potential odds with this idea is the fact that a free-ranging population of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) lives in Silver River State Park since being introduced along the Silver River in the 1930s. From January – May 2013, we conducted daily observations of the macaques to determine the current population size, diet, ranging patterns, and patterns of interactions with human visitors. Observations were conducted from the river (in watercrafts) using scan and behavior sampling techniques. The current population comprises approximately 120 individuals, distributed in four social groups. Group size ranges between 15 – 40. All groups are attracted to the river’s edge, where provisioning from boaters occurs. Common provisions include fruit (oranges, apples, grapes) and processed foods (bread, crackers, chips). Despite provisioning, preliminary results indicate that the macaques are subsisting primarily on natural foods (84% of behavioral records) such as, Fraxinus caroliniana (pop ash) and Carex spp. (sedge). Their ability to incorporate local flora into their dietary repertoire confirms the remarkable ecological flexibility of this primate. Over the last 80+years, rhesus macaques have carved out a niche in the riparian woodlands of central Florida, challenging notions of what “the real Florida” really is. Supported by National Geographic/Waitt Institute and SDSU.