, 40:249 | Cite as

Fragmented living: Behavioural ecology of primates in a forest fragment in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon

  • Caroline E. G. Tutin


A 17-month study was made of the primates using a 9-ha “island” of forest, surrounded by savanna, in the northern part of the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. One group ofCercopithecus cephus (plus a young maleCercopithecus nictitans who was in permanent association with them) were resident in the fragment and groups of five other species of primates made visits during 127 days of observation:Pan troglodytes, 15 visits;Cercocebus albigena, 10;Colobus satanas, 3;Cercopithecus nictitans, 2;C. pogonias, 1. Visits were also made by lone males of three species,C. nictitans, Cercocebus albigena, andMandrillus sphinx. The eighth species of diurnal primate present at Lopé,Gorilla g. gorilla, did not visit the fragment during the study. Compared to conspecific groups in neighbouring continuous forest, primates in the fragment ate less fruit, seeds and flowers and more insects and leaves. The local population density of primates resident in the fragment was equivalent to that of the neighbouring continuous forest where all eight species occur, despite the diversity and abundance of fruit being less in the fragment. The costs imposed on the resident group by the reduced diversity and availability of preferred fruit foods appeared to be offset by a number of benefits that increased individual feeding efficiency for monkeys residing within a single fragment. These included lower travel costs, reduced feeding competition between individuals through group fission, and excellent knowledge of the location and quality of food resources in the small home range. It is also possible that the overall negative impact of inter-specific feeding competition was lower in fragments than in continuous forest and that micro-habitat differences resulted in an increased availability of palatable insect and leaf fallback foods in the fragment.

Key Words

Primate community Guenons Diet Fragmentation Competition Inter-specific interactions 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline E. G. Tutin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre International de Recherches Médicales de FrancevilleGabon
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Molecular SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingScotland

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