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Use of Alternative Plant Resources by Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) in the Semi-Arid Caatinga Scrub Forests of Northeastern Brazil

Authors

  • TACYANA DUARTE AMORA,

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    • Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
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  • RAONE BELTRÃO-MENDES,

    1. Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
    2. Graduate Program in Zoology, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil
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  • STEPHEN F. FERRARI

    1. Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
    2. Graduate Program in Zoology, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil
    3. Department of Biology, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
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  • Contract grant sponsor: CNPq; contract grant numbers: 302747/2008-7, 303994/2011-8; Contract grant sponsor: Boticário Foundation; contract grant number: 0846_20092; Contract grant sponsor: CAPES

Correspondence to: Tacyana Duarte Amora, PPEC, Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Av. Marechal Rondon s/n, Bairro Rosa Elze, 49.100-000 São Cristóvão, SE, Brazil. E-mail: tacyanaduarte@yahoo.com.br

Abstract

The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is amply distributed in the Brazilian Northeast, but little is known of its ecology in the semi-arid Caatinga scrublands. The present study provides the first detailed data on the composition of the diet of C. jacchus in Caatinga ecosystems, derived from observations at four sites in the state of Sergipe. While exudate sources were gouged at all four sites in a manner typical of the species, fruit was the principal component of the diet at the main study site during most months, and a number of unusual items were eaten, including leaves, and the reproductive parts of cacti and bromeliads. These plants are rarely recorded in marmoset diets, but are common in caatinga habitats. Leaves were ingested during 5 of the 8 months monitored at the main study site, reaching 39.74% of the diet in 1 month, and appeared to be an alternative fallback food to plant exudates during periods when fruit was scarce. Three species of cactus provided both flowers and fruits, while the terrestrial bromeliad, Encholirium spectabile, provided nectar (30.81% of the diet in November). Approximately half of the plant species (and three families) identified in this study had not been recorded previously in the diet of Callithrix. Overall, the data suggest that, while the marmosets exploit the same types of plant foods in the Caatinga, the resource base is quite distinct from that of the Atlantic Forest. Other differences, such as relatively small groups and large home ranges, may contribute to divergent ecological patterns, which require more systematic investigation. Am. J. Primatol. 75:333-341, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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