Abstract # 15:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 01:30 PM-01:45 PM: Session 5 (Mary Gay)


B. P. Marriott1, R. L. Jones2, J. Roemer, IV3, C. J. Sultana4, H. M. Habermann (dec.)5 and J. C. Smith, Jr.6
1Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Charleston, SC 29425, USA, 2University of Illinois,Urbana, IL 61801, 3Roemer Ecological Services, Parkton, MD 21120, 4Weil-Cornell OB/GYN,New York, NY 10038, 5Goucher College, Towson, MD 21204, 6ARS, USDA (ret.),Beltsville, MD 20705

Data on geophagy (soil eating) among nonhuman primates dwelling in many locations have been compared to test hypotheses related to nutrient insufficiency, amelioration of digestive distress, parasitic infestation, and learned cultural behavior, among others. While data on the chemical composition of ingested soils have been assessed from a number of locations, one comprehensive review pointed out that comparative behavioral data on social patterns related to geophagy remained lacking. We report on 15 months of observations over 5 years across 3 climatic seasons of dietary intake among 1 group (125) of wild rhesus monkeys in Nepal and compare this data with 12 consecutive months of dietary intake from 1 group (96)of Cayo Santiago (CS) rhesus. Eating behavior and levels of specific nutrients in gathered plant foods, commercial diet (CS), and soil were compared. Soil composition analysis from both sites found relatively high levels of iron, zinc, and copper in clay, sand and humus rich soils. Twenty-minute focal animal samples coupled with location mapping and activity scans indicate systematic visits to soil “caves” within troop/group home ranges. Behaviors indicative of gastric distress, as described for other primate species were not observed proximate to soil ingestion. The study did not examine parasitic load. Soil intake is discussed within the context of overall maternal-guided, learned, food acquisition patterns and nutrient intake for the species.