Feeding and Resting Postures of Wild Northern Muriquis (Brachyteles hypoxanthus)

Authors


  • Contract grant sponsor: Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Correspondence to: Matthew G. Nowak, Department of Anthropology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, 62901. E-mail: mnowak@siu.edu

Abstract

Increased body size in Brachyteles has been regarded as an important evolutionary adaptation that allowed a greater reliance on leaves compared to other more frugivorous Atelidae, but its association with muriqui positional behavior and substrate use is still unknown. Here, we present original data on the feeding and resting postures of the northern muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) and evaluate predictions about the relationships between body size, postural behavior, and substrate use derived from previously published data for other atelids (e.g. Alouatta, Ateles, and Lagothrix). The study was undertaken from August 2002 to July 2003 on a large group of well-habituated muriquis inhabiting the Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural – Felíciano Miguel Abdala in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Consistent with our predictions, we found that B. hypoxanthus was highly suspensory during postural feeding (60.9%) and commonly used tail–hind limb suspension/horizontal tripod (38.0%) or tail–forelimb/hind limb suspension (21.4%). However, although tail-suspensory postures permitted the muriquis to use the terminal canopy and small-sized substrates, these areas were also accessed via tail-assisted above-branch postural behaviors involving multiple substrates. Unexpectedly, tail-suspensory postures were found to be frequently associated with large substrates, tree trunks, and the understory. We suggest that Brachyteles’ ability to access food resources from all areas of a feeding tree and from tree crowns at different canopy levels may account for their ability to efficiently exploit food resources in seasonal disturbed forest fragments of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest today. Am. J. Primatol. 75:74-87, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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