, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 491-514

Habitat, diet, and activity patterns of free-ranging woolly spider monkeys (Brachyteles arachnoides E. Geoffroy 1806)

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Results of a 10-month study of the ecology and behavior of free- ranging woolly spider monkeys (Brachyteles arachnoides)in Brazil show that these animals are strongly folivorous. Leaf-eating accounted for more than 50% of the total feeding time in all samples but one and accounted for more than 80% of the total feeding time in three samples. Mature foliage was routinely eaten. Woolly spider monkeys consistently spend more than 50% of each day quietly resting and sleeping. Animals travel little except when actively feeding and show low levels of social interaction. Such an activity profile suggests that woolly spider monkeys may often be living near the limits of their energetic resources. The social organization of the species is unusual for a folivorous primate in that small groups of females and associated immature animals confine their activities to discrete home-range areas, whereas males are itinerant, traveling over the home ranges of various female groups. Animals sharing a common home-range area show no permanent daily pattern of association other than that of mother-dependent offspring. Foraging alone or with few conspecifics should maximize each individual’s returns from foraging by minimizing the day range that must be traveled each day to locate foods while simultaneously lowering interference competition for higher-quality dietary resources.