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Folia Primatol (Basel). 1990;54(3-4):177-86.

Dietary differences between neighboring Cebus capucinus groups: local traditions, food availability or responses to food profitability?

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  • 1Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Que, Canada.


The feeding patterns of three neighboring groups of Cebus capucinus were documented over a 3-year period in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. We describe the diets of the three groups and examine whether dietary differences between groups could be attributed to environmental differences in food abundances, to differences in the profitability of what was available or to learned local traditions. Diets were variable among groups; group A primarily ate fruit (81.2% of feeding time) and spent little time eating insects (16.9%), while group C was more heavily reliant on insects (44.3%) and ate less fruit (53.0%). Group B had a diet that was somewhat intermediate (69.8% fruit, 29.0% insects). By measuring the densities of all major plant foods, we were able to determine that many of the dietary differences between groups could not be attributed to simple measures of food abundance, but we could not distinguish between the food profitability hypothesis and local tradition hypothesis.

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