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Resource partitioning in sympatric langurs and macaques in tropical rainforests of the central Western Ghats, south India

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Abstract

In a competitive sympatric association, coexisting species may try to reduce interspecific interactions as well as competition for similar resources by several ecological and behavioral practices. We studied resource utilization of three sympatric primate species namely, lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus), bonnet macaques (M. radiata) and Hanuman langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) in a tropical rainforest of the central Western Ghats, south India. We studied resource use, tree-height use, foraging height, substrate use when consuming animal prey and interspecific interactions. The results revealed that across the year, there was very limited niche overlap in diet between each species-pair. Each primate species largely depended on different plant species or different plant parts and phenophases from shared plant species. Primate species used different heights for foraging, and the two macaque species searched different substrates when foraging on animal prey. We also recorded season-wise resource abundance for the resources shared by these three primate species. While there was low dietary overlap during the dry season (a period of relatively low resource abundance), there was high dietary overlap between the two macaque species during the wet season (a period of high resource abundance for the shared resources). We observed only a few interspecific interactions. None of these were agonistic, even during the period of high niche overlap. This suggests that the sympatric primate species in this region are characterized by little or no contest competition. Unlike in some other regions of the Western Ghats, the lack of interspecific feeding competition appears to allow these primates, especially the macaques, to remain sympatric year-round. Am. J. Primatol. 73:335–346, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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