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Keywords:

  • proboscis monkeys;
  • Nasalis larvatus;
  • feeding behavior;
  • activity budget;
  • colobines

Abstract

A group of proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) consisting of an alpha-male, six adult females, and several immatures was observed from May 2005–2006. We collected over 1,968 hr of focal data on the adult male and 1,539 hr of focal data on the six females in a forest along the Menanggul River, Sabah, Malaysia. Availability and seasonal changes in plant species consumed by the focal monkeys were determined by vegetation surveys carried out across an area of 2.15 ha along 200–500 m trails in riverine forest. A total of 188 plant species were consumed by the focal monkeys. The activity budget of members of our study group was 76.5% resting, 19.5% feeding, and 3.5% moving. Young leaves (65.9%) and fruits (25.9%) accounted for the majority of feeding time. Over 90% of fruit feeding involved the consumption of unripe fruits and in the majority of case both the fruit flesh and seeds were eaten. Although fruit eating was rare in some months, during other times of the year time fruit feeding exceeded the time devoted to young leaves. We found that monthly fruit availability was positively related to monthly fruit eating and feeding activity, and seasonal fluctuations in dietary diversity were significantly affected by fruit eating. These results suggest that fruit availability and fruit-eating behaviors are key factors that influence the activity budget of proboscis monkeys. Earlier assumptions that colobine monkeys are obligate folivores do not apply well to proboscis monkeys and certain other colobines. Our findings may help contribute to a better understanding of the dietary adaptations and feeding ecology of Asian colobines. Am. J. Primatol. 71:478–492, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.