Facets of habitat quality which allow species persistence in forest fragments are an important aspect for primate conservation. Mantled howler monkeys (A. palliata) seem to be tolerant of habitat fragmentation, though the limits of this flexibility are not yet clear. In some areas, howler monkey densities in small, primary forest fragments are among the highest ever recorded for the species. We hypothesize that if high density is also determined by habitat carrying capacity; primaryvegetation should provide higher quality resources. Alternatively, if density is just the consequence of crowding, this would decrease the quality of the diet compared to that of monkeys living in non-crowded forests. To test these hypotheses, we studiedfour howler monkey groups at La Suerte Biological Field Station, North-eastern Costa Rica. Two groups occurred in a small primary forest with high howler density, while two groups lived in a large secondary forest with lower density. We collected behavioural data via a 5-min Focal Animal Sampling to estimate activity, habitat use and diet. Food samples were also collected and then analyzed to evaluate their nutritional contents. Moreover, we registered GPS coordinates and estimated home-ranges and mean inter-location distances. Our results show that primary forest food samples contained a significantly lower amount of fiber and a higher protein/fiber ratio than samples from the secondary habitat. Also, primary forest groups used larger feeding trees and moved substantially less than secondary forest groups. Our results support the hypothesis that the primary forest provides higher quality resources than the secondary habitat and, as a possible consequence, howler monkeys living in the latter have to move more to meet their energy requirements.

Living in Islands of Forests: Feeding Ecology of Alouatta palliata in Forest Fragments at La Suerte Biological Field Station, Costa Rica

LIPONI, GIAN BATTISTA;
2011

Abstract

Facets of habitat quality which allow species persistence in forest fragments are an important aspect for primate conservation. Mantled howler monkeys (A. palliata) seem to be tolerant of habitat fragmentation, though the limits of this flexibility are not yet clear. In some areas, howler monkey densities in small, primary forest fragments are among the highest ever recorded for the species. We hypothesize that if high density is also determined by habitat carrying capacity; primaryvegetation should provide higher quality resources. Alternatively, if density is just the consequence of crowding, this would decrease the quality of the diet compared to that of monkeys living in non-crowded forests. To test these hypotheses, we studiedfour howler monkey groups at La Suerte Biological Field Station, North-eastern Costa Rica. Two groups occurred in a small primary forest with high howler density, while two groups lived in a large secondary forest with lower density. We collected behavioural data via a 5-min Focal Animal Sampling to estimate activity, habitat use and diet. Food samples were also collected and then analyzed to evaluate their nutritional contents. Moreover, we registered GPS coordinates and estimated home-ranges and mean inter-location distances. Our results show that primary forest food samples contained a significantly lower amount of fiber and a higher protein/fiber ratio than samples from the secondary habitat. Also, primary forest groups used larger feeding trees and moved substantially less than secondary forest groups. Our results support the hypothesis that the primary forest provides higher quality resources than the secondary habitat and, as a possible consequence, howler monkeys living in the latter have to move more to meet their energy requirements.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/236875
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