Feeding Ecology of Red Langurs in Sabangau Tropical Peat-Swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo: Extreme Granivory in a Non-Masting Forest

Authors

  • DAVID A. EHLERS SMITH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom
    • Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, Centre for the International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands, University of Palangka Raya, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
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  • SIMON J. HUSSON,

    1. Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, Centre for the International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands, University of Palangka Raya, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
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  • YVETTE C. EHLERS SMITH,

    1. Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, Centre for the International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands, University of Palangka Raya, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
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  • MARK E. HARRISON

    1. Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, Centre for the International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands, University of Palangka Raya, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
    2. Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
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Correspondence to: David A. Ehlers Smith, 75, Furnace Lane, Nether Heyford, Northamptonshire NN7 3JS, UK. E-mail: DEhlersSmith@outrop.com

Abstract

Southeast Asia's lowland dipterocarp forests experience supra-annual “mast” fruiting and flowering events, in which the majority of trees reproduce simultaneously at irregular intervals, with extensive intervening periods of very low primate food availability. This scarcity of food results in a negative energy balance and a reliance on “fallback foods” in some primate species. By contrast, ombrogenous tropical peat-swamp forests are non-masting, and show lower variability of food availability. We sought to test the influence of fruit availability on primate diet and preference in peat-swamp habitats and assess whether it differs from masting forests. We collected behavioral-dependent feeding data on three adult females in a group of red langurs (Presbytis rubicunda: Colobinae) between January and December 2011 in Sabangau tropical peat-swamp forest, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, as colobine monkeys are adaptated for folivory, and are therefore generally considered less reliant on temporally variable fruits than monogastric primates. We documented the highest level of granivory recorded to date in colobine monkeys: mean annual diet comprised 76.4% seeds and 7.3% other fruit parts; 7.7% young and 2.5% mature leaves; 2.8% flowers; 2.6% piths, and <1% on other minor food items. Fruit availability was fairly constant throughout the year and fruit parts were consumed at consistently higher levels than expected based on availability, confirming that fruit is preferred. Leaves and flowers were consumed consistently less than expected and thus are not preferred. There were no significant correlations between preferred food availability and consumption of potential fallback foods, suggesting that reliance on fallback foods did not occur in Sabangau during the study period. Furthermore, consumption of fruit was not significantly correlated with its availability. Our findings suggest that the relatively constant availability of fruit in this habitat affords P. rubicunda regular access to a nutritionally superior food, and that reliance on fallback foods is therefore not required. Am. J. Primatol. 75:848–859, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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