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Am J Primatol. 2009 Jan;71(1):8-20. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20625.

Diet of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in Mesoamerica: current knowledge and future directions.

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Departamento de Biodiversidad y Ecología Animal, Instituto de Ecología A.C., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.

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  • Am J Primatol. 2011 May;73(5):501.


Here we review all published articles and book chapters, as well as unpublished theses and data of Ateles geoffroyi diet to (1) summarize the literature; (2) synthesize general feeding patterns; (3) document plant taxonomic similarity in diet across study sites; and (4) suggest directions for future research and conservation priorities. We found 22 samples from five countries: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. Tropical wet forest is the most studied habitat (N=13 samples), followed by tropical dry forest (6) and tropical moist forest (3). Most samples have been carried out in large protected forests. In spite of showing an overall high dietetic diversity (364 species, 76 families), A. geoffroyi concentrated the majority of feeding time on a few species in the families Moraceae and Fabaceae. At all study sites fruits were the most common food item in the diet followed by leaves. Furthermore, a greater variety of food items and less fruit were consumed in forest fragments. These findings suggest that fruit shortage in fragments results in primates using foods of presumably lower energetic content such as leaves. Similarity in diet was higher among groups geographically closer to each other than among distant groups, showing that the floristic and phenological characteristics of the forest can influence diet composition. We conclude that several years of data are required to fully describe the dietary list of A. geoffroyi at any one site, as studies of the same group over different years shared as little as 56% of species. As most populations of A. geoffroyi live in highly fragmented landscapes, it is crucial to carry out studies in these areas to evaluate (1) changes in diet and activity patterns that may negatively affect survival; and (2) habitat attributes that may favor their persistence in altered landscapes.

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