• Atelin;
  • Alouatta;
  • Diet;
  • Ranging behavior;
  • Seasonality


Comparisons between the four genera that make up the Atelinae reveal two distinct behavioral patterns, one in which energy expenditure is minimized (Alouatta) and one in which energy intake is maximized (Lagothrix, Ateles, and Brachyteles). Among the atelins, Lagothrix and Ateles devote over 75% of their annual feeding time to fruit, while Brachyteles devotes between 50% and 67% of their feeding time to leaves. Pronounced seasonality in the Atlantic coastal forest inhabited by Brachyteles may be responsible for its more folivorous diet. Alouatta falls in the body size range of Lagothrix and is much smaller than Ateles and Brachyteles. Nonetheless, Alouatta is more folivorous than sympatric atelins. The atelins also share a rapid, suspensory mode of locomotion that appears to enable them to minimize travel time between widely dispersed fruit sources. Alouatta, by contrast, employs a slower, but more energetically efficient, quadrupedal locomotion. Ranging patterns among the Atelinae are consistent with both diet and locomotor abilities: Atelins travel daily distances up to 5,000 m; Alouatta ranges are much shorter. Further distinctions are evident in Atelinae grouping patterns. Alouatta remains in small cohesive groups that occupy home ranges less than 60 ha in size. Both Lagothrix and Ateles have large groups that fission to reduce the costs of intragroup feeding competition when preferred fruits occur in small patches within much larger community ranges. While greater reliance on low-energy foods such as leaves may release Brachyteles from similar competitive constraints, their tendency toward fluid grouping associations is consistent with the pursuit of a frugivorous diet. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.