Interpopulation differences in exudate feeding of pygmy marmosets in Ecuadorian Amazonia



Local variations in fruit- and leaf-eating have been reported for some primate species; however, similar variations in exudate-feeding of pygmy marmosets, one of the most specialized neotropical primate species, have not been studied. In our 3-year study of four populations of pygmy marmosets in northeastern Ecuador, we characterized their exudate-feeding behavior by describing the use of exudate sources. We tested whether the use of exudate species was related to ecological factors such as the availability of exudate species in an area. We estimated the daily activity budgets of the groups with 1-hr scan samples and found significant interpopulation differences in the time spent on exudate feeding. We recorded a total of 18 exudate species used in the four populations; however, the populations differed in the total number of species used and in the preferred species. The most commonly used plant species were Sterculia apetala at San Pablo, Cedrela odorata at Sacha, Inga marginata at Amazoonico, and Parkia balslevii at Zancudo. We recorded the presence and abundance of the 18 exudate species in 90-m transects in the home range of each group and in one additional control area that contained no marmosets, for each population. Differences in the most-used exudate species among populations did not appear to be related to the availability of these species in each population, i.e., the marmosets did not use at random the exudate species available within their range, nor did they use more often the exudate species that were more abundant in their home ranges. One implication of our results for conservation is that protecting exudate resources based on data from only one area will not be sufficient to preserve pygmy marmosets in all populations. Am. J. Primatol. 66:145–158, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.