Food habits and home range use of Japanese macaques on an island inhabited by deer

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Food habits and home range use of a troop of Japanese macaque Macaca fuscata Blyth on Kinkazan Island (9.6 km2), northern Japan, were studied from the spring of 2000 to the winter of 2002. The home range of this troop covers the area where vegetation is modified by foraging of sika deer Cervus nippon Temminck. The core areas of the home ranges of the macaque troop corresponded closely to the distributions of the staple food plants in every season. For example, leaves of Berberis thunbergii DC. and leaves of Zelkova serrata Makino in spring, berries of Berchemia racemosa Sieb. & Zucc. in summer, nuts of Zelkova serrata and Carpinus spp. in the fall of 2000 and winter of 2001, seeds of Torreya nucifera Sieb. & Zucc. in the fall of 2001, and bark of Zanthoxylum piperitum DC. in winter of 2002. Among the staple food plants, Berberis thunbergii and Zanthoxylum piperitum are more abundant on Kinkazan Island than other macaque habitats in northern Japan because they are spiny and unpalatable to sika deer, hence survive under the heavy foraging by the deer. Further, another staple food plant, Berchemia racemosa, a liana, grows abundantly at the edges of Illicium forests. Illicium anisatur is toxic and is not consumed by sika deer. Monkeys of this troop using the unique vegetation induced by sika deer grazing, fed on several plants which are not consumed by monkeys in other areas, and the home range was heavily affected by the distributions of these plants.

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