, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 197-207
Date: 31 Jan 2007

Terrestriality and tree stratum use in a group of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys

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Abstract

Morphological characters allow the Sichuan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) to use multiple tree levels, but very few studies have quantified the terrestriality and tree stratum use of the species. I investigated the terrestriality and tree stratum use in a group of the monkeys from July 2003 to September 2004 (except February) in the Qianjiaping area of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, China. I collected data on the vertical position of individual monkeys in forest in relation to behavior types, diet, age/sex classes, vegetation types, tree height, and distribution of predators. The monkeys were much more arboreal than they were thought to be. They spent 97.1% of their time in trees (n = 21,234 records) and 2.9% on the ground, and mainly used the middle (74.4%) and upper strata (17.4%). The monkeys displayed all behavioral types except searching in the middle and upper strata. The percentage of use of a stratum (except the low stratum) varied among months, and there was a difference in the percentage of use of a stratum among age/sex classes and between vegetation types. Approximately 94.2% of trees used by the monkeys were >6 m tall. They mainly fed on lichens, young leaves, mature leaves, flowers, fruits or seeds, and buds in the middle and upper strata, bark in the low and middle strata and herbs on the ground. Wolf (Canis lupus), leopard (Panthera pardus), and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) are predators threatening the survival of individual monkeys in the study site. The results suggested that the seasonal vertical distribution of food items eaten in forest, predators, and vegetation types had important effects on the terrestriality and tree stratum use of the monkeys.