Abstract # 14:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 01:15 PM-01:30 PM: Session 5 (Mary Gay)


THE EFFECT OF FRUIT AND FLOWER AVAILABILITY ON FLOWER FORAGING IN WHITE-FACED CAPUCHINS (CEBUS CAPUCINUS) IN SECTOR SANTA ROSA, COSTA RICA

J. D. Hogan1, A. D. Melin2 and L. M. Fedigan1
1University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada, 2Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
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     The dietary and nutritional significance of flowers is often assumed to be negligible, yet many primates consume them, occasionally at high frequencies. For some primates flowers may be fallback foods during fruit dearth, in which case flower eating rates should increase during periods of ripe-fruit scarcity but not change based on flower availability. To determine what role flowers play in the diet of white-faced capuchins we observed three groups of monkeys for 107 days between May 2013 and March 2014 (1158 observation hours). Any visit by a monkey to a plant that resulted in flower consumption was recorded as a “flower patch visit” (FLPV), regardless of the number of monkeys involved, the amount of flowers consumed, or the duration of the visit. Bi-weekly phenological data were collected on known plant foods to determine how flower foraging varied with fruit and flower availability. Flower eating occurred on 31.7% of observation days and was strongly seasonal: 88.2% of days with FLPVs were in the dry season between mid-December and March. The overall availability of flowers did not affect whether FLPVs occurred on a given day (logistic regression, B=0.03, df=1, p=0.944), but ripe-fruit food availability had a significant positive effect (B=0.169, df=1, p=0.000). These results provide mixed support for the fallback foods hypothesis and suggest other factors such as preference or nutrition may influence flower eating behaviour.