Diet and Feeding Ecology ofAteles chamekin a Bolivian Semihumid Forest: The Importance ofFicusas a Staple Food Resource


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Abstract

We describe temporal patterns of food consumption by Peruvian spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) in a semihumid forest in lowland Bolivia. We assessed dietary composition in relation to temporal variation in abundance, duration, and synchrony of different food items in their home range. We collected data from September 2003 to September 2004, in the forestry concession La Chonta, Department of Santa Cruz. Throughout the period of detailed feeding data collection (February-September 2004), Ateles chamek used Ficus as a staple food resource. Figs constituted almost 50% of their diet in terms of total time spent feeding, and subjects consumed them to a great extent even during times of high overall food availability. This is contrary to the general expectation that for Neotropical frugivores, Ficus is a fallback food in times of fruit scarcity, rather than a staple food resource. Surprisingly, despite being considered ripe fruit specialists, Ateles chamek spent 18% of their feeding times eating unripe figs. Ateles chamek consumed unripe figs all through the year, including periods when ripe figs and other ripe fruit were abundant. We identify other important fallback foods for Ateles chamek in the forest, in particular the ripe fruit of Myrciaria sp.

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