, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 208-221
Date: 12 Apr 2007

Variation in diet and ranging of black and white colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda

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Abstract

Recently, considerable intraspecific variation in the diets and ranging behavior of colobine monkeys has been described, although in most cases this has involved documenting variation between, not within, sites. Some African colobines, such as guerezas (Colobus guereza), are relatively abundant in disturbed habitats that are very heterogeneous, raising the intriguing possibility that even groups with overlapping home ranges may exhibit large behavioral differences. If such differences occur, it will be important to understand what temporal and spatial scales adequately portray a species’ or population’s diet and ranging behavior. This study documents within-site variation in the diet and ranging behavior of guerezas in the habitat types in which they are described to be most successful—forest edge and regenerating forest. We collected data on eight groups of guerezas with overlapping home ranges for 3–5 months each in Kibale National Park, Uganda. The guerezas were highly folivorous, with leaves constituting 78.5–94.0% of the groups’ diets. The percentage of mature leaves and fruit in the diet varied widely among and within groups. We show that differences among groups in the intensity with which they fed on specific tree species were not just related to phenology, but also to differences in the forest compositions of groups’ core areas. Range size estimates varied more than fivefold among groups and the minimum distance from groups’ core areas to eucalyptus forest (which all groups regularly fed in) was a better predictor of range size than was group size. These results reveal considerable variation in the diet and ranging behavior among groups with overlapping ranges and have implications for comparative studies, investigations of within- and between-group feeding competition, and the potential for populations to adapt to anthropogenic or natural environmental change.