Abstract # 189:

Scheduled for Monday, September 15, 2014 10:45 AM-11:00 AM: Session 25 (Mary Gay) Oral Presentation


WITHIN- SPECIES VARIABILITY IN THE MICROHABITATS OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS (GORILLA BERINGEI): IMPLICATIONS FOR NUTRIENT BALANCING

J. M. Rothman1,2,3, E. Cancelliere2,3 and D. Raubenheimer4
1Hunter College of CUNY, Department of Anthropology, New York, NY 10065, USA, 2New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, 3Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY, 4Charles Perkins Centre, School of Biological Sciences and Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney
line
     Primate foods are variable in nutritional composition within species, but we know little about the abiotic and anthropogenic drivers of this variability. In the same month, we collected multiple samples (N=285) of four species of herb and tree leaves frequently eaten by mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda in relation to microhabitat characteristics including altitude, slope angle, topographic position, and areas of the park zoned for human use. We analyzed these foods for sugar, protein, and fiber using standard nutritional methods, and used generalized linear models to assess the effects of microhabitat characteristics on nutritional composition. Nutrients in the four species varied widely, and patterns within a species were apparent. Neutral detergent fiber declined with increasing altitude in Myrianthus and Triumfetta leaves, and sugars in Triumfetta, Urera and Myrianthus were higher within increasing altitude (GLM, p<0.01). Protein varied widely within species but with no relationship to microhabitat characteristics (GLM, p>0.10 for all models). Nutrients in gorilla foods in areas used by humans did not differ from those outside of human- use zones (GLM, p>0.10 for all models). Our results indicate that habitat heterogeneity is not only affected by the abundance and distribution of plant species. Particular plant species do not always provide the same nutritional benefits, which affects nutrient intake and balancing by gorillas.