Article

Primates

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 63-80

Resource availability and population density in primates: A socio-bioenergetic analysis of the energy budgets of Guatemalan howler and spider monkeys

  • Anthony M. CoelhoJr.Affiliated withPrimate Ethology Laboratory, Southwest Foundation for Research and Education
  • , Claud A. BramblettAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin
  • , Larry B. QuickAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin
  • , Sharon S. BramblettAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin

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Abstract

This paper presents data on the food and energy utilization budgets of two sympatric species of nonhuman primates living in the quasi-rain forest of Tikal, Guatemala. Seven researchers working in teams obtained approximately 1200 hours of animal-observer contact time, representing approximately 2400 hours in the field. The following information is herein presented: (1) data on the estimated energy expenditure of the cebidae population living in the study site; (2) the nutritional composition of some foods eaten by Tikal's howler and spider population; (3) an estimate of the nutritional intake of howlers and spiders; and (4) an estimate of the carrying capacity of the habitat. The above types of data were combined in an attempt to answer the following question: To what extent are population density and size an indication of the carrying capacity of the habitat either in terms of food availability or quality? Data presented in this paper suggest that low population density and small group size are not necessarily the result of a nutritionally poor environment. The Tikal study site is capable of supporting 8,500 animal/km2. In the absence of other comparable quantitative socio-bioenergetic surveys it is herein suggested that the concept of food resource limitation is largely a myth among primatologists.