Variation on Frugivory: The Diet of Venezuelan White-Faced Sakis

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White-faced sakis (Pithecia pithecia) are Neotropical seed predators that ingest a mixed diet of fruit, leaves, and insects. We report timed feeding data for a 12-mo period on a group of 8 white-faced sakis occupying an island—a portion of their original home range—in Lago Guri, Venezuela. We collected fruit and leaf samples, dried them in the field, and analyzed them to measure nutrient content—free simple sugars (FSS), crude protein (CP), lipids, and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC)—and the presence of antifeedants: total tannins, condensed tannins and dietary fiber. We weighted nutrients and antifeedants by timed feeding samples to estimate actual intake. Then we compared intake among months and seasons. Compared with other frugivores, the average monthly intake of lipids was extremely high (16.1% by dry matter estimate(DM)), attributed to ingestion of young seeds and other plant parts that were relatively high in lipids, e.g., seed arils. Intake of FSS and CP were relatively low: 3.4% DM and 6.5% DM, respectively. The average intake of total cell wall or neutral detergent fiber (NDF = 38.4% DM) was only slightly lower than the range reported for colobines. Average intake of tannins was within the range reported for cercopithecines: condensed tannins of 3.3% Quebracho units standard (QU). We suggest that white-faced sakis accept a trade-off for food items that are fibrous or astringent if they are also rich in lipids. White-faced sakis expand the typical definition of primate fruit-eater in their high lipid-relatively high NDF-low FSS diet.

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