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The value of figs to chimpanzees


Nine Ugandan figs have consistent differences in nutrient concentration between the pulp and seed fractions. Pulp has more water-soluble carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, calories, and ash, while the seed fraction has more condensed tannins, lipids, and fiber. Because species differ, nutrient concentration in pulp could not be predicted from analysis of whole figs. Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest relied heavily on figs throughout 29 months, feeding relatively intensely at large trees. Fig size varied between species, between individuals of the same species, and between fruiting cycles of the same tree. Larger figs had higher water concentrations but still led to higher rates of nutrient intake per minute for chimpanzees, monkeys, and hornbills. Chimpanzees ate more than 40 cal/min, excluding calories derived from insoluble fiber, when harvesting large figs.

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Deceased, July 1990.

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Wrangham, R.W., Conklin, N.L., Etot, G. et al. The value of figs to chimpanzees. International Journal of Primatology 14, 243–256 (1993).

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Key Words

  • figs
  • chimpanzees
  • intake rates
  • nutrient composition
  • frugivore assemblages