International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 542–566

Methods in Primate Nutritional Ecology: A User’s Guide

  • Jessica M. Rothman
  • Colin A. Chapman
  • Peter J. Van Soest

DOI: 10.1007/s10764-011-9568-x

Cite this article as:
Rothman, J.M., Chapman, C.A. & Van Soest, P.J. Int J Primatol (2012) 33: 542. doi:10.1007/s10764-011-9568-x


An important goal of primatology is to identify the ecological factors that affect primate abundance, diversity, demography, and social behavior. Understanding the nutritional needs of primates is central to understanding primate ecology because adequate nutrition is a prerequisite for successful reproduction. Here, we review nutritional methods and provide practical guidelines to measure nutrient intake by primates in field settings. We begin with an assessment of how to estimate food intake by primates using behavioral observations. We then describe how to collect, prepare, and preserve food samples. Finally, we suggest appropriate nutritional assays for estimating diet nutritional quality and point to the merits and limitations of each. We hope this review will inspire primatologists to use nutritional ecology to answer many unresolved questions in primatology.


Energy Feeding ecology Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy Protein 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica M. Rothman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Colin A. Chapman
    • 3
    • 4
  • Peter J. Van Soest
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyHunter College of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York Consortium in Evolutionary PrimatologyNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology and McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  5. 5.Department of Animal ScienceCornell UniversityIthacaUSA