Diet of the Critically Endangered Brown Spider Monkey (Ateles hybridus) in an Inter-Andean Lowland Rainforest in Colombia


  • Primate Conservation Inc.; Contract grant sponsor: Primate Action Fund (Conservation International); Contract grant sponsor: Research Fellowship Program (Conservation Leadership Programme); Contract grant sponsor: Rufford Small Grants Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Idea Wild.

Correspondence to: Andrés Link, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de Los Andes, Carrera 1A No. 18A-10, Bogotá, Colombia. E-mail:


Brown spider monkeys (Ateles hybridus) are one of the least known and more threatened primates in the Neotropics. Recognized as a species about a decade ago, field studies on these endangered primates have mainly focused on estimating local population densities. Since 2006, we habituated a group of wild brown spider monkeys at Serranía de Las Quinchas, Colombia, and studied their feeding ecology during 2.5 years using focal “subgroup” sampling, and conducted phenological surveys in order to estimate habitat-wide fruit availability. Based on 847 hr of behavioral follows, brown spider monkeys spent approximately 25% of their time in feeding activities, and fed from fruits and leaves on at least 123 plant species. Ripe fruits were the most important item in the diet of A. hybridus at Las Quinchas comprising 92% of their feeding time. Probably due to the minor variation in the monthly proportion of fruits in brown spider monkey's diet throughout this study, there was no relation between habitat-wide fruit availability and the proportion of fruit included in their monthly diet. The diet of brown spider monkeys at Las Quinchas is toward the high end of fruit intake, even within other wild spider monkeys’ populations, suggesting that these endangered primates might also be facing the challenges of being a large bodied fruit specialist under a regional scenario of habitat loss and fragmentation. Am. J. Primatol. 74:1097-1105, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.