• Leontopithecus;
  • foraging ecology;
  • ranging patterns;
  • diet;
  • golden-headed lion tamarin


Lion tamarins (Callitrichidae: Leontopithecus) are small frugi-faunivores that defend large home ranges. We describe results from the first long-term investigation of wild golden-headed lion tamarins (L. chrysomelas; GHLTs). We present data about activity budgets, daily activity cycles, diet, daily path length, home range size, home range overlap, and territorial encounters for three groups of GHLTs that were studied for 1.5–2.5 years in Una Biological Reserve, Bahia State, Brazil, an area characterized by aseasonal rainfall. We compare our results to those from other studies of lion tamarins to identify factors that may influence foraging and ranging patterns in this genus. Ripe fruit, nectar, insects, and small vertebrates were the primary components of the GHLT diet, and gums were rarely eaten. Fruit comprised the majority of plant feeding bouts, and the GHLTs ate at least 79 different species of plants from 32 families. The most common foraging sites for animal prey were epiphytic bromeliads. The GHLTs defended large home ranges averaging 123 ha, but showed strong affinities for core areas, spending 50% of their time in approximately 11% of their home range. Encounters with neighboring groups averaged two encounters every 9 days, and they were always aggressive. Data about time budgets and daily activity cycles reveal that the GHLTs spent most of their time foraging for resources or traveling between foraging sites distributed throughout their home ranges. The GHLTs spent much less time consuming exudates compared to lion tamarins in more seasonal environments. Additionally, the GHLTs had much larger home ranges than golden lion tamarins (L. rosalia), and did not engage in territorial encounters as frequently as L. rosalia. GHLT ranging patterns appear to be strongly influenced by resource acquisition and, to a lesser extent, by resource defense. Am. J. Primatol. 63:1-15, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.