Seasonality of group size, feeding, and breeding in wild red-shanked douc langurs (Lao PDR)

Authors

  • Phaivanh Phiapalath,

    1. School of Biology, Institute of Science, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
    2. International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, Vientiane, Lao PDR
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  • Carola Borries,

    1. Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
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  • Pongthep Suwanwaree

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biology, Institute of Science, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
    • School of Biology, Institute of Science, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima, 30000, Thailand
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Abstract

In Asian colobines, small one-male groups (OMG) seem to predominate alongside all-male groups (AMG), while larger multimale groups (MMG) are rare, but are reported for Hanuman langurs and red-shanked douc langurs. Recently, however, it has been speculated that the genus Pygathrix could have multilevel societies based on (1) a theoretical extension of the multilevel societies found in Rhinopithecus to all odd-nosed colobines and (2) first data for black-shanked douc langurs. This assumes bands composed of small OMG with a skewed adult sex ratio. Band size may vary with seasonal food availability resulting in smaller bands when feeding competition is increased. To investigate the social organization of red-shanked douc langurs and potential seasonal influences, we observed 2 unhabituated groups at Hin Namno National Protected Area, Lao PDR from March 2007 to August 2008 for 803 hr. We recorded births and performed group counts and scan sampling of feeding behavior. Most births (79% of N = 15) occurred from June–September, indicating a 4-month peak conception season from November to February. Group size averaged 24.5 individuals (range 17–45) with 2.45 adult males (range 1–4). Although the smaller group remained at a stable size (about 18 individuals), the larger group reduced from about 45 to 25 individuals during the 7-months long lean season, when less than 50% of the feeding time was spent on fruits. This suggests feeding competition as a potential cause of seasonal variation in group size. With 1.9 females per male the skew in adult sex ratio was much lower compared with Rhinopithecus, indicating MMG rather than multilevel societies. However, data on the spacing and interaction patterns between recognized individuals need to be collected and analyzed before the social organization can be determined. Detailed ecological data are furthermore required to investigate the basis for the seasonal changes in group size found. Am. J. Primatol. 73:1134–1144, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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