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Insect Prey Foraging Strategies in Callicebus oenanthe in Northern Peru


  • Contract grant sponsor: Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation; contract grant sponsor: Lincoln Park Zoo Neotropical Field Research; contract grant sponsor: Primate Conservation, Inc.; contract grant sponsor: Fulbright Association.

Correspondence to: Anneke M. DeLuycker, Department of Anthropology, Mailcode 4502, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901 USA.


Titi monkeys (genus Callicebus) are small-bodied platyrrhines that supplement their predominantly frugivorous diet with variable amounts of leaves, seeds, and/or arthropod prey. Notable interspecific variation in the amount of insect prey in the diet has been observed in Callicebus, ranging from 0% to 20%. In this study, I investigate the degree and type of prey foraging in a little-known species, Callicebus oenanthe inhabiting a fragmented, secondary forest on the foothills of the Andes in northern Peru. I present data on prey type, prey search and capture techniques, substrate/vegetation use, foraging height, prey capture efficiency, and seasonal variation of insect prey foraging in one group of C. oenanthe observed from January to August 2005. Insect prey accounted for 22% of the diet, the highest amount reported for any Callicebus species to date, and insects from at least six different orders were included. C. oenanthe was mainly an investigative forager of hidden prey, manipulating easy-to-open substrates such as rolled up leaves, and hunted ant swarms and larger insects opportunistically. Insect foraging was predominant during the dry season (26%) and decreased during the wet season (13%). The study group foraged mostly in the understory (2–6 m) within vine-laden shrubs and trees, which may conform to an anti-predator strategy of crypticity. Overall the group had an 83% insect capture success rate. These data suggest that insect prey is an important part of the diet of C. oenanthe and may be especially notable during periods of resource scarcity. This study adds to the knowledge concerning insect prey foraging in Callicebus, which can have an important role in defining ecological strategies in the selection of secondary protein food resources within a given ecosystem. Am. J. Primatol. 74:450-461, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.