Age and seasonal effects on predator-sensitive foraging in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus): a field experiment


  • Anita I. Stone

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
    • Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616
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A field experiment was conducted to examine the effect of perceived predation risk on the use of foraging areas by juvenile and adult primates under different conditions of local food abundance. Wild squirrel monkeys, Saimiri sciureus, were observed in an experiment conducted during the dry and the wet seasons at a site in Eastern Amazonia, Brazil. Animals were presented with feeding platforms that differed in food quantity and exposure to aerial predators through varying vegetative cover. In the dry season, juveniles and adults chose platforms based solely on food quantity. However, in the wet season, juveniles foraged preferentially on high-reward platforms only if cover level also was high (i.e., potentially offered greater concealment from predators). In contrast, adults showed the same pattern of platform use regardless of season. These results indicate that age and local resource availability based on seasonality affect whether primates forage in a predator-sensitive manner. Juveniles may be more sensitive to predation risk when foraging, and individuals may take fewer risks when resource abundance is high in their environment. Am. J. Primatol. 69:1–15, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.