Effects of Reproductive Status on Energy Intake, Ingestion Rates, and Dietary Composition of Female Cebus capucinus at Santa Rosa, Costa Rica
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- McCabe, G.M. & Fedigan, L.M. Int J Primatol (2007) 28: 837. doi:10.1007/s10764-007-9159-z
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The limiting factor for fitness in female primates is the acquisition of high-quality food, i.e., food that is high in energy and nutrients, such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Reproductive status can influence female feeding patterns, e.g., lactating females in some primate species consume greater quantities of food and specific nutrients than do nonlactating females. We examined the energy intake, ingestion rate, and composition of the diet in female white-faced capuchins in 3 reproductive states: lactating, gestating, and cycling. We observed 12 reproductively active females for 7 mo and compared their energy intake, ingestion rates, and intake rates of nutrients: protein, fat, sugar, and fiber. Lactating females took in significantly more energy per hour while feeding than pregnant and cycling females did. Lactating females also ingested significantly more food items per hour, but they did not spend more time eating than other females did, and they did not differ in the composition of their diet as measured by insect consumption and proportion of protein. Pregnant and cycling females did not differ from each other in any of the measures. We predicted that as the infants aged and began to move independently to forage and play, their mothers’ energy intake rates would decrease in concert with decreased energy demands by the infant. We found a statistically significant relationship between these 2 factors, with infant age explaining 75.4% of variation in mothers’ energy intake, supporting previous studies that found lactation to be the most energetically expensive reproductive state.