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Keywords:

  • non-human primates;
  • energy;
  • plant secondary metabolites;
  • protein;
  • nutrient balancing

Summary

  • 1
    Primates meet their nutritional goals by prioritizing certain nutritional parameters when choosing the types and quantities of different foods.
  • 2
    There are five major models applied in primate nutritional ecology, each of which proposes that diet selection subserves a different primary nutritional goal: (i) energy maximization; (ii) nitrogen (protein) maximization; (iii) avoidance or regulation of intake of plant secondary metabolites; (iv) limitations on the intake of dietary fibre; and (v) nutrient balancing.
  • 3
    Here, we review the evidence in support of each of these nutritional goals as drivers of primate diet selection. We discuss some of the costs and benefits associated with different methodological approaches used in primate nutritional ecology.
  • 4
    New approaches developed outside of primatology have provided better frameworks for understanding the nutritional goals of some primate species. We suggest that the field of primate nutritional ecology needs to take greater advantage of the techniques developed by nutritional ecologists working in other fields.
  • 5
    Specifically, we recommend (i) the increased application of the Geometric Framework for nutrition, (ii) the application of methodological approaches that enable the estimation of nutrient and energy availability from food sources, and (iii) continuous follows of individual primates in the wild for determining primary nutritional goals.