Predatory behavior of crowned hawk-eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) in Kibale National Park, Uganda
Evaluating the nature and significance of predation on populations of wild primates has been difficult given a paucity of data regarding the phenomenon. Here we addressed this problem in a 37-month study of the predatory behavior of crowned hawk-eagles living at the Ngogo study site in Kibale National Park, Uganda. We collected prey remains underneath the nests of two pairs of eagles and census data on potential prey species to investigate prey selection and the ecological impact of predation on the Ngogo primate population. Results indicate that primates form the vast majority of all prey items. Eagles prey selectively on monkeys according to sex and species. Male primates were taken more often than females, while two species, redtail monkeys and mangabeys, were captured significantly more and less, respectively, than chance expectation. In addition, there was no bias in the age of prey: adult and non-adults were killed in numbers roughly equal to their proportional representations in the forest. Further analyses indicate that a non-trivial fraction of the entire primate population at Ngogo succumbs to crowned hawk-eagle predation each year. These results reveal both parallels and contrasts with those reported previously. Some of the parallels are due to similarities in prey availability, while contrasts are likely related to methodological differences between studies, inter- individual variations in predator hunting styles, and differences in prey abundance, demography, and behavior.