Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 185–190 | Cite as

Towards an ecological solution to the folivore paradox: patch depletion as an indicator of within-group scramble competition in red colobus monkeys (Piliocolobus tephrosceles)

  • Tamaini V. Snaith
  • Colin A. Chapman
Original Article


A number of socioecological models assume that within-group food competition is either weak or absent among folivorous primates. This assumption is made because their food resources are presumed to be superabundant and evenly dispersed. However, recent evidence increasingly suggests that folivore group size is food-limited, that the primates prefer patchily distributed high-quality foods, and display some of the expected responses to within-group scramble competition. To investigate this apparent contradiction between theoretical models and recent empirical data, we examined the foraging behaviour of red colobus monkeys (Piliocolobus tephrosceles) in Kibale National Park, Uganda. We found that red colobus monkeys foraged in a manner that suggests they deplete patches of preferred foods: intake rate slowed significantly during patch occupancy while movement rate, an index of foraging effort, increased. Furthermore, patch occupancy was related to the size of the feeding group and the size of the patch. These results suggest that within-group scramble competition occurs, may limit folivore group size, and should be considered in models of folivore behavioural ecology.


Colobines Kibale Patch depletion Red colobus Scramble competition Social systems Socioecological models 



Funding for this research was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Science Foundation (grant number SBR-9617664, SBR-990899, SBR-0342582), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Harvard University Anthropology Department. Lauren Chapman, Lynne Isbell, Cheryl Knott, Andrew Marshall, Matthew McIntyre, Richard Wrangham, and anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Permission to conduct this research was given by the National Council for Science and Technology, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. All research reported in this paper complies with the laws of the country in which it was conducted


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, 5th Floor Peabody MuseumHarvard UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Anthropology Department and McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA

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