International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 221-245

First online:

Fruit preferences of four sympatric primate species at Ketambe, northern Sumatra, Indonesia

  • Peter S. UngarAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, The University of Arkansas

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Recent researchers have drawn attention to fruit preferences in a variety of primates;for instance, in 1991, Davies noted that monogastric primates prefer the flesh of succulent, sugar-rich fruits, while colobines more often consume and digest large seeds of drier fruits. I compare fruit preferences in four sympatric primates— Hylobates lar, Macaca fascicularis, Pongo pygmaeus,and Presbytis thomas—which I studied concurrently at the Ketambe Research Center in northern Sumatra. I collected continuous focal animal data during 40–50 hr per taxon per month for 10 months and recorded fruit species size,pH, and descriptive attributes, including degree of ripeness, hardness, pericarp type, and number of seeds. The langurs prefer dry fruit seeds while the monogastric primates more often consume acidic, succulent fruit flesh. Further, H. lar, M. fascicularis,and P. pygmaeusvary significantly in preferences for fruits vis-à-visthe characteristics examined.

Key words

Sumatran primates seed predation fruit consumption dietary specialization