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Keywords:

  • frugivore;
  • tropical rainforest;
  • resource scarcity;
  • lion-tailed macaque;
  • Western Ghats

Abstract

Tropical rainforests show seasonal fluctuations in the abundance of fruits resulting in periods of resource scarcity for frugivores. We examined the response of an obligate frugivore, the lion-tailed macaque (LTM) (Macaca silenus), to a period of fruit scarcity in a rainforest in the Western Ghats, India. We estimated the abundance and distribution of fruit resources from food tree densities obtained from 348 point centered quadrats, and fruit availability from phenological monitoring of 195 trees of 15 reported major food species. Macronutrient content was estimated for fruits of 15 major food species. We estimated time spent feeding on different food items from 1,853 individual scans spanning 120 hr of observation of one habituated study group. There was a distinct period of fruit scarcity during the drier months of February to mid-March (Period 1) compared with late March and April (Period 2), separated by summer showers. Fruits available in Period 1 had lower soluble carbohydrate and lipid content and overall caloric value compared with Period 2. During the lean period, the LTM fed more on fruits of Drypetes wightii, which had the highest carbohydrate content, than on nectar of Palaquium ellipticum or Ficus spp., which had low carbohydrate content. During this period, the resource availability in a location significantly influenced the occurrence of feeding there. In Period 2, the group fed most on the seeds of Cullenia exarillata, the most abundant tree in the home-range and with the highest content of soluble carbohydrates. During this period, the abundance of food trees in fruit in a location did not seem to influence the occurrence of feeding. Low abundance, stochastic fruiting and, low quality might make Ficus spp. a poor fallback option for the LTM. Am. J. Primatol. 73:1250–1260, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.