Food Acquisition and Processing in Primates

pp 177-211

Food Acquisition and Processing as a Function of Plant Chemistry

  • Peter G. WatermanAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Strathclyde

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Relatively little data exists concerning the energy and nutrient requirements of free-living primates. In the only comprehensive investigation published Nagy and Milton (1979a) recorded an average food intake of 53.5 g/kg/day of mixed fruit and immature leaves by six howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata). Of this about 35% was assimilated, representing a field energy budget of 355 kJ/ kg/day, almost twice the reported basal rate and markedly higher than the rate of 293 kJ/kg/day recorded for two caged howlers. Our knowledge of the minimum requirements of specific nutrients is similarly scant (Kerr, 1972). Protein demand can be assumed to be at least the 1 g/kg/day recommended for man, but could be appreciably higher. Most vitamin requirements are also probably comparable to those of man. Other nutrients required include Ca, Mg, Na, K, P, Cl, S, I, Fe, Cu, Se, Mo, B, Mn and V, and possibly Al, Si, Ni, Cr, Sn, Zn and Co (Kerr, 1972; Nagy and Milton, 1979b).