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Am J Primatol. 2008 May;70(5):432-8. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20510. Epub 2007 Dec 27.

Traditional nutritional analyses of figs overestimates intake of most nutrient fractions: a study of ficus perforata consumed by howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata mexicana).

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Dirección Técnica de Análisis y Prioridades, Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) Mexico, D.F., Mexico.


There continue to remain uncertainty concerning the nutritional importance of figs (Ficus spp.) in the primate diet. Although studies have been performed on the nutritional analysis of fig pulp and seed fractions separately, there has not been an attempt to quantify the contribution of animal matter within figs. Here we report nutritional values of figs (Ficus perforata) (Urostigma) consumed by a troop of howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata mexicana). Separate nutritional assays were performed on the pulp, seed, and animal fraction. Whole-fig analyses significantly exaggerate the concentrations of all nutrients (lipids especially) as seeds, which represent a large proportion of the fig (45%), cannot be digested. Animal matter only represents 1% of the fig, and augments fig protein and lipid content by 0.44 and 0.30%, respectively. This represents the 11 and 9% of the fraction available for digestion. Differences in fig consumption were observed between age and sex classes (P=0.04) and periods of the day (P=0.001); females consumed more figs than males and the highest consumption of figs was observed in the afternoon. F. perforata figs may be an important component of the howler monkeys diet owing to their high content of water and calcium.

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