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Ecology - Neuroscience - Nutrition

Wood Consumption by Geoffroyi’s Spider Monkeys and Its Role in Mineral Supplementation
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Author: Oscar M. Chaves et al.

by Oscar M. Chaves, Kathryn E. Stoner, Sergio Ángeles-Campos, Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez

Wood consumption is a rare behavior in frugivorous primates; however, it can be necessary for nutritional balancing as it may provide macro and/or micronutrients that are scarce in the most frequently eaten items (fruits). We tested this hypothesis in six spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) communities inhabiting continuous and fragmented rainforests in Lacandona, Mexico. We investigated the importance of both live and decayed wood in the diet of the monkeys, and assessed if wood consumption is related to the nutritional composition of these items. In general, wood consumption was focused on trees of Licania platypus (Chrysobalanaceae) and Ficus spp. (Moraceae), and was similar in continuous forest and in fragments (mean ± SD; 24±20% vs 18±16% of total feeding time, respectively), but marginally higher in females than in males (16±14% vs 5±4%, respectively). Live and decayed wood were both poorer in lipids, proteins, total nonstructural carbohydrates, and total digestible nutrients compared to mature and immature fruits. Moreover, decayed wood of L. platypus showed consistently higher levels of sodium and calcium compared to fruits. In conclusion, our findings suggest that wood from decaying trees of L. platypus and Ficus spp. and young branch piths of L. platypus represents an important source of sodium and/or calcium in the diet of spider monkeys, particularly in the case of females. The protection of decaying trees within forests and fragments is therefore necessary for the appropriate management and conservation of this endangered primate species.