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Keywords:

  • day range length;
  • range size;
  • resource availability;
  • woolly monkey;
  • foraging strategy

Abstract

In a year-long study, I investigated the ranging behavior of lowland woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii) in a terra firma rainforest in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador, and examined the relationship between ranging, diet, food availability, and food patch use for this population. In Yasuní the total home range sizes for two social groups were 124 and 108 ha, which are much smaller than has been reported previously for Lagothrix elsewhere in its geographic distribution. The mean yearly day range estimates for these same groups were 1,792 m and 1,878 m, which are well within the range of variation previously reported. Ranging behavior was not correlated with the current habitat-wide abundance of ripe fruit, which comprises 76.3% of the yearly diet for this population, but was associated with one measure of likely insect prey abundance and with the availability of immature fruits, a minimal part of the diet. Specifically, one study group moved significantly greater distances during months of high likely insect prey abundance and when immature fruits were abundant. The second study group also traveled farther when likely insect prey abundance was high and when immature fruits were abundant, although the latter relationship only approached significance. This group also devoted significantly more of its daily activity budget to travel during these times. These results indicate that variation in ripe fruit abundance makes no meaningful contribution to explaining variation in ranging behavior for this population of woolly monkeys. Instead, the results raise the possibility that some aspects of the ranging behavior of frugivorous primates may be related to the availability of alternative food sources, such as animal prey, or to monitoring the phenological status of important fruit trees, rather than simply reflecting the degree of intragroup feeding competition. Am. J. Primatol. 59:47–66, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.