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Keywords:

  • stable isotopes;
  • dietary ecology;
  • δ13C;
  • δ15N;
  • primates

Stable isotope analysis has become an important tool in ecology over the last 25 years. A wealth of ecological information is stored in animal tissues in the relative abundances of the stable isotopes of several elements, particularly carbon and nitrogen, because these isotopes navigate through ecological processes in predictable ways. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes have been measured in most primate taxonomic groups and have yielded information about dietary content, dietary variability, and habitat use. Stable isotopes have recently proven useful for addressing more fine-grained questions about niche dynamics and anthropogenic effects on feeding ecology. Here, we discuss stable carbon and nitrogen isotope systematics and critically review the published stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data for modern primates with a focus on the problems and prospects for future stable isotope applications in primatology. Am. J. Primatol. 74:969-989, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.