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Differences in Diet Between Spider Monkey Groups Living in Forest Fragments and Continuous Forest in Mexico
Article first published online: 16 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2011 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 105–113, January 2012
How to Cite
Chaves, Ó. M., Stoner, K. E. and Arroyo-Rodríguez, V. (2012), Differences in Diet Between Spider Monkey Groups Living in Forest Fragments and Continuous Forest in Mexico. Biotropica, 44: 105–113. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2011.00766.x
- Issue published online: 10 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 16 MAR 2011
- Received 28 October 2009; revision accepted 26 November 2010.
- dietary flexibility;
- food availability;
- habitat loss;
- Neotropical primates
Forest fragmentation can lead to reductions in food availability, especially for some large-bodied tropical mammals such as spider monkeys. During a 15\xE2\x80\x90mo period, we assessed the diet of Geoffroyi's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) in continuous forest and fragments in the Lacandona region, southern Mexico, and related differences in diet to differences in vegetation structure and composition. We found that both forest types presented top food species for monkeys (e.g., Spondias spp., Brosimum alicastrum), but the sum of the importance value index of these species and the density of large trees were lower in fragments than in continuous forest. We also found that, compared with continuous forest, monkeys in fragments diversified their overall diet, increased consumption of leaves, and reduced the time they spent feeding on trees in favor of more time feeding on hemiepiphytes (particularly Ficus spp.) and palms, both of which were common in fragments. We attribute these changes to the relative food scarcity of the most favored feeding plants in forest fragments. Overall, our findings suggest that monkeys are able to adjust their diet to food availability in fragments, and thus persist in small- and medium-sized fragments. Although it is unlikely that the small size of two of the three study fragments (14 and 31 ha) can maintain viable populations of monkeys in the long term, they may function as stepping stones, facilitating inter-fragment movements and ultimately enhancing seed dispersal in fragmented landscapes.