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Keywords:

  • Growth and development;
  • Dietary variation;
  • Monkeys and apes;
  • Body size

Abstract

This study assesses ontogenetic correlates of diet in anthropoid primates. Associations between body weight growth, adult size, and diet are evaluated for a sample of 42 primate species, of which 8 are classifiable as “folivores.” The hypothesis that folivores show a pattern of growth that differs from “nonfolivores” is tested. Ontogenetic variation is summarized through use of parametric and nonparametric regression analysis. Several analytical techniques, including broad interspecific and detailed comparisons among species of similar adult size, are applied. This investigation indicates a clear association between body weight ontogeny and diet: folivorous species grow more rapidly over a shorter duration than comprably sized nonfolivorus species. A positive correlation between adult size and diet is not unambiguously established in this sample. A threshold (at around 1 kg) below which insectivory is very common may adequately characterize the association between adult size and diet in anthropoid primates. Above this threshold, adult size does not appear to covary predictably with diet. Evolutionary correlates of the ontogenetic pattern seen in folivores may include a variety of factors. The distinctive pattern of development in folivores may relate to the profile of ecological and social risks that these species face. Morphophysiological advantages to rapid growth may relate to a need for accelerated alimentary (dental and gut) development. The implications of ontogenetic variation in folivores are discussed. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.