Effect of Group Size on Activity Budgets of Colobus vellerosus in Ghana

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Group size influences foraging efficiency in several primates. We examined the activity budgets of 3 groups of Geoffroy's pied colobus (Colobus vellerosus) at the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in Ghana to determine whether larger group size induces scramble competition. We studied 2 groups (B1; N = 7-8 and WW; N = 31-33) occupying slightly overlapping home ranges from August to November 2000. We observed the third group, B2 (N = 15-16), comprising B1 and 7 male invaders in the same home range as B1 from August to November 2001. By comparing groups belonging to the same population and occupying sligthly overlapping or similar home ranges, we were able to control, to a certain extent, for differences in food distribution. We recorded a total of 3353 scans, yielding 14,886 activity records, over 73 days. As with other black-and-white colobus, resting was their most common activity (59%). Intergroup comparisons suggest that time spent feeding, resting and moving did not vary in relation to group size. However, intragroup comparisons between the sexes show that females in the large group spent more time feeding than males did, whereas this was not the case in the small group, which suggests that scramble competition may be occurring among female Colobus vellerosus at BFMS. It is also possible that this may be due to greater nutritional requirements because of a higher proportion of infants in the large group. In fact, the proportion is quite similar between the two groups, lending support to the idea that females in the two groups had comparable nutritional demands due to lactation. This suggests that increased feeding in females in the large group was partly an effect of scramble competition. Group size and group composition also influenced the frequency of social behavior. There was more grooming in the large group, and it was performed mostly by females. The distribution of activities throughout the day was similar to the pattern reported for other black-and-white colobus.

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