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Primates. 2008 Jan;49(1):1-8. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Fruit diet of Alouatta guariba and Brachyteles arachnoides in Southeastern Brazil: comparison of fruit type, color, and seed size.

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  • 1Graduate Program, Biological Science/Zoology, Dept. de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, CP 11461, CEP 05422-970 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Fruit is an important food resource for neotropical primates. In this study I compare the fruit diet of sympatric brown howlers (Alouatta guariba) and southern muriquis (Brachyteles arachnoides). Feeding behavior was studied over 12 months and fruit species consumed were identified and assigned to the categories fruit type, fruit color, and seed size. Observed-fruit feeding records were compared with expected records determined from local availability of the fruit of the tree species. I also determined dietary overlap. Fruit consumption occupied 8 and 12% of the feeding time of A. guariba and B. arachnoides, respectively. Fruit from eight tree species were consumed by the former and fruit from twenty-two species by the latter. Patterns of fruit selection of A. guariba and B. arachnoides varied widely. Although howlers and muriquis converge behaviorally by selecting fruit with common attributes (fleshy/unprotected, violet and brown/black-colored), unlike A. guariba, B. arachnoides fed on immature seeds of fleshy/protected and dry fruit. Large seeds were ingested, and defecated intact, by B. arachnoides only. There was little overlap of fruit diet even within categories that had been selected by both, suggesting that dietary divergence is occurring at the interspecific level. Different resource exploitation probably mediates the coexistence of A. guariba and B. arachnoides in low diversity, semideciduous forests, where the environment imposes narrow limits on primate food choices.

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