International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 615–640

Ecological Flexibility in Boutourlini’s Blue Monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis boutourlinii) in Jibat Forest, Ethiopia: A Comparison of Habitat Use, Ranging Behavior, and Diet in Intact and Fragmented Forest

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10764-013-9684-x

Cite this article as:
Tesfaye, D., Fashing, P.J., Bekele, A. et al. Int J Primatol (2013) 34: 615. doi:10.1007/s10764-013-9684-x

Abstract

Comparisons of the behavior and ecology of primates living in intact and fragmented forest are critical to the development of conservation strategies for the many primate taxa threatened by habitat loss. From July 2009 to April 2010, we investigated the habitat use, ranging behavior, and diet of two groups of Boutourlini’s blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis boutourlinii), a subspecies endemic to western Ethiopia, whose habitats had experienced different levels of disturbance at Jibat Forest. Forest Group occupied primarily continuous tree-dominated forest with little human disturbance whereas Fragment Group inhabited a heavily degraded 2- to 3-km2 forest fragment nearly surrounded by farmland and connected tenuously to the continuous forest by a narrow corridor of riverine forest. Mean daily path lengths for both groups were nearly identical (Forest Group: 799 m; Fragment Group: 783 m) and exhibited little seasonal variability. The mean home range areas of Forest Group and Fragment Group were 72.0 and 61.2 ha, respectively. Forest Group (N = 2232 feeding records) fed mostly on fruits (52.5 %), though they also ate animal prey (14.7 %), young leaves (11.1 %), shoots (8.7 %), and flowers (7.3 %). In contrast, fruits accounted for only 17.0 % of Fragment Group’s diet (N = 2903 feeding records), with shoots (29.8 %), young leaves (17.1 %), animal prey (13.1 %), seeds (9.6 %), and flowers (6.8 %) also making substantial contributions to their diet. Only Fragment Group engaged in crop raiding, consuming seeds from barley and wheat extensively (33–41 % of diet) during 2 mo. Fragment Group (N = 33) ate more plant species than Forest Group (N = 24), though both groups exploited a small number of plant species relative to other subspecies of blue monkeys. Our study revealed that, like most other blue monkey subspecies, Boutourlini’s blue monkeys are quite flexible in the habitats they occupy as well as in their foraging habits. Despite this ecological flexibility, the long-term conservation of Boutourlini’s blue monkey is far from assured given its limited distribution, the rapidly growing human population, and the high rates of forest clearance in western Ethiopia.

Keywords

BambooConservationCrop raidingFeeding ecologyForest fragmentGuenonHome range

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyArba Minch UniversityArba MinchEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology and Environmental Studies ProgramCalifornia State University FullertonFullertonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Zoological SciencesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  4. 4.Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of BiosciencesUniversity of Oslo, BlindernOsloNorway