A Bayesian analysis of the temporal change of local density of proboscis monkeys: Implications for environmental effects on a multilevel society

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Abstract

To understand the effects of environmental factors on a social system with multilevel society in proboscis monkey units, the temporal change of the local density of sleeping sites of monkeys was investigated along the Menanggul river from May 2005 to 2006 in Malaysia. Proboscis monkeys typically return to riverside trees for night sleeping. The sleeping site locations of a one-male unit (BE-unit) were recorded and the locations of other one-male and all-male units within 500 m of the BE-unit were verified. In addition, environmental factors (food availability, the water level of the river, and the river width) and copulation frequency of BE-unit were recorded. From the analyses of the distance from the BE-unit to the nearest neighbor unit, no spatial clumping of the sleeping sites of monkey units on a smaller scale was detected. The results of a Bayesian analysis suggest that the conditional local density around the BE-unit can be predicted by the spatial heterogeneity along the river and by the temporal change of food availability, that is, the local density of monkey units might increase due to better sleeping sites with regard to predator attacks and clumped food sources; proboscis monkeys might not exhibit high-level social organization previously reported. In addition, this study shows the importance of data analysis that considers the effects of temporal autocorrelation, because the daily measurements of longitudinal data on monkeys are not independent of each other. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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