, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 209-221

Effects of Group Size on Ranging Patterns in Brachyteles arachnoides hypoxanthus

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Abstract

We collected systematic data on the home range and day ranges of one group of 57–63 muriquis (Brachyteles arachnoides hypoxanthus) at the Estação Biológica de Caratinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil from September 1998–July 1999, and compared them with similar data collected 15 years ago when the 23–27 individuals in the group traveled together as a cohesive unit. Home range size increased from 168 ha to 309 ha, reflecting an expansion into areas of the forest that were previously unutilized and consistent with the positive relationship predicted between group size and home range size. By contrast, muriquis exhibited remarkable seasonal and interannual stability in their day ranges. Day ranges, which were calculated from 144 days with ≥8 h of observation, averaged 1,313 ± 573 m (median = 1,206 m). Day ranges did not vary with the size of subgroups, defined as independent individuals that traveled with one another out of contact with other group members. Subgroups were significantly larger during the rainy season (mean = 41.8 ± 12.7, median = 46.0 individuals, n = 72) than the dry season (mean = 36.6 ± 13.25, median = 39.5 individuals, n = 72). Subgroups were also larger than the size of the entire group during the previous study, yet their day ranges are indistinguishable. The stability in muriqui day ranges is consistent with predictions for folivorous primates in which other indicators of intragroup feeding competition, such as female dominance relationships, are also absent. We attribute the transition from cohesive to fluid grouping patterns to limits on the number of individuals that can coordinate their movements when they spread out while foraging and suggest that seasonal differences in subgroup sizes without corresponding adjustments in day ranges reflect seasonal differences in the distribution of preferred foods coupled with the effects of reproductive seasonality on muriqui grouping patterns.