, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 208–221 | Cite as

Variation in diet and ranging of black and white colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda

  • Tara R. HarrisEmail author
  • Colin A. Chapman
Original Article


Recently, considerable intraspecific variation in the diets and ranging behavior of colobine monkeys has been described, although in most cases this has involved documenting variation between, not within, sites. Some African colobines, such as guerezas (Colobus guereza), are relatively abundant in disturbed habitats that are very heterogeneous, raising the intriguing possibility that even groups with overlapping home ranges may exhibit large behavioral differences. If such differences occur, it will be important to understand what temporal and spatial scales adequately portray a species’ or population’s diet and ranging behavior. This study documents within-site variation in the diet and ranging behavior of guerezas in the habitat types in which they are described to be most successful—forest edge and regenerating forest. We collected data on eight groups of guerezas with overlapping home ranges for 3–5 months each in Kibale National Park, Uganda. The guerezas were highly folivorous, with leaves constituting 78.5–94.0% of the groups’ diets. The percentage of mature leaves and fruit in the diet varied widely among and within groups. We show that differences among groups in the intensity with which they fed on specific tree species were not just related to phenology, but also to differences in the forest compositions of groups’ core areas. Range size estimates varied more than fivefold among groups and the minimum distance from groups’ core areas to eucalyptus forest (which all groups regularly fed in) was a better predictor of range size than was group size. These results reveal considerable variation in the diet and ranging behavior among groups with overlapping ranges and have implications for comparative studies, investigations of within- and between-group feeding competition, and the potential for populations to adapt to anthropogenic or natural environmental change.


Home range Temporal and spatial variation Comparative studies Kibale National Park Diet 



We thank Irumba Peter, Magaro James, Kaija Chris, Eva Laier, and Claire Porter for helping collect data. David Watts, Andreas Koenig, Eric Sargis, Nga Nguyen, Toshisada Nishida, and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments and advice. We also thank the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology for permission to conduct research. This research was funded by the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and the Harvard Travelers Club.


  1. Bennett EL, Davies AG (1994) The ecology of Asian colobines. In: Davies AG, Oates JF (eds) Colobine monkeys: their ecology, behavior, and evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 129–171Google Scholar
  2. Campbell C, Fuentes A, MacKinnon K, Panger M, Bearder S (eds) (2007) Primates in perspective. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ (1999) Implications of small-scale variation in ecological conditions for the diet and density of red colobus monkeys. Primates 40:215–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chapman CA, Lambert JA (2000) Habitat alteration and the conservation of African primates: case study of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Am J Primatol 50:169–185PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chapman CA, Pavelka MSM (2005) Group size in folivorous primates: ecological constraints and the possible influence of social factors. Primates 46:1–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, Wrangham RW, Hunt K, Gebo D, Gardner L (1992) Estimators of fruit abundance of tropical trees. Biotropica 24:527–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chapman CA, Wrangham RW, Chapman LJ (1995) Ecological constraints on group size: an analysis of spider monkey and chimpanzee subgroups. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 36:59–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapman LJ, Chapman CA, Crisman TL, Nordlie FG (1998) Dissolved oxygen and thermal regimes of a Ugandan crater lake. Hydrobiology 385:201–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapman CA, Balcomb SR, Gillespie TR, Skorupa JP, Struhsaker TT (2000) Long-term effects of logging on African primate communities: a 28-year comparison from Kibale National Park, Uganda. Conserv Biol 14:207–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, Gillespie TR (2002a) Scale issues in the study of primate foraging: red colobus of Kibale National Park. Am J Phys Anthropol 117:349–363PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, Cords M, Gauthua M, Gautier-Hion A, Lambert JE, Rode KD, Tutin CEG, White LJT (2002b) Variation in the diets of Cercopithecus species: differences within forests, among forests, and across species. In: Glenn M, Cords M (eds) The guenons: diversity and adaptation in African monkeys. Plenum Press, New York, pp 319–344Google Scholar
  12. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, Rode KD, Hauck EM, McDowell LR (2003) Variation in the nutritional value of primate foods: among trees, time periods, and areas. Int J Primatol 24:317–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, Naughton-Treves L, Lawes MJ, McDowell LR (2004) Predicting folivorous primate abundance: validation of a nutritional model. Am J Primatol 62:55–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chapman CA, Struhsaker TT, Lambert JE (2005) Thirty years of research in Kibale National Park, Uganda, reveals a complex picture for conservation. Int J Primatol 26:539–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Curtis DJ, Zaramody A (1998) Group size, home range use, and seasonal variation in the ecology of Eulemur mongoz. Int J Primatol 19:811–835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davies AG, Oates JF, Dasilva GL (1999) Patterns of frugivory in three West African colobine monkeys. Int J Primatol 20:327–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doran-Sheehy DM, Greer D, Mongo P, Schwindt D (2004) Impact of ecological and social factors on ranging in Western gorillas. Am J Primatol 64:207–222PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Enquist BJ, Niklas KJ (2002) Global allocation rules for patterns of biomass partitioning for seed plants. Science 295:1517–1520PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fashing PJ (1999) The behavioral ecology of an African colobine monkey: diet, range use, and patterns of intergroup aggression in eastern black and white colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza). PhD Thesis, Columbia UniversityGoogle Scholar
  20. Fashing PJ (2001a) Feeding ecology of guerezas in the Kakamega forest, Kenya: the importance of Moraceae fruit in their diet. Int J Primatol 22:579–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fashing PJ (2001b) Activity and ranging patterns of guerezas in the Kakamega forest: intergroup variation and implications for intragroup feeding competition. Int J Primatol 22:549–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fashing PJ (2001c) Male and female strategies during intergroup encounters in guerezas (Colobus guereza): evidence for resource defense mediated through males and a comparison with other primates. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fashing PJ (2007) African colobine monkeys. In: Campbell C, Fuentes A, MacKinnon K, Panger M, Bearder S (eds) Primates in perspective. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 201–224Google Scholar
  24. Fleagle JG, Mittermeier RA (1980) Locomotor behavior, body size and comparative ecology of seven Surinam monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 52:301–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fleury M, Gautier-Hion A (1999) Seminomadic ranging in a population of black colobus (Colobus satanas) in Gabon and its ecological correlates. Int J Primatol 20:491–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Foster SA, Cameron SA (1996) Geographic variation in behavior: a phylogenetic framework for comparative studies. In: Martins E (ed) Phylogenies and the comparative method in animal behavior. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 138–165Google Scholar
  27. Ganas J, Robbins MM, Nkurunungi JB, Kaplin BA, McNeilage A (2004) Dietary variability of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Int J Primatol 25:1043–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gebo DL, Chapman CA (1995a) Positional behavior in five sympatric old world monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 97:49–76PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gebo DL, Chapman CA (1995b) Habitat, annual, and seasonal effects on positional behavior in red colobus monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 96:73–82PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grassi C (2006) Variability in habitat, diet, and social structure of Hapalemur griseus in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. Am J Phys Anthropol 131:50–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hamilton A (1991) A field guide to Ugandan forest trees. Makerere University Press, KampalaGoogle Scholar
  32. Harris TR (2006) Between group contest competition for food in a highly folivorous population of black and white colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61:317–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Harvey PH, Clutton-Brock TH (1981) Primate home-range size and metabolic needs. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 8:151–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hill DA, Agetsuma N (1995) Supra-annual variation in the influence of Myrica rubra fruit on the behavior of a troop of Japanese macaques in Yakushima. Am J Primatol 35:241–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hunt KD, McGrew WC (2002) Chimpanzees in the dry habitats of Assirik, Senegal and Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Uganda. In: Boesch C, Hohmann G, Marchant LF (eds) Behavioural diversity in chimpanzees and bonobos. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 35–51Google Scholar
  36. Janson CH, van Schaik CP (1988) Recognizing the many faces of primate food competition: methods. Behaviour 105:165–186Google Scholar
  37. Kasenene J (1987) The influence of mechanized selective logging, felling intensity and gap-size on the regeneration of a tropical moist forest in the Kibale Forest Reserve, Uganda. PhD Thesis, Michigan State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  38. Katende AB, Birnie A, Tengnäs B (1995) Useful trees and shrubs for Uganda: identification, propagation, and management for agricultural and pastoral communities. Regional Soil Consultants Unit, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  39. Kirkpatrick RC (2007) The Asian colobines: diversity among leaf-eating monkeys. In: Campbell CJ, Fuentes A, MacKinnon CK, Panger M, Bearder SK (eds) Primates in perspective. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 186–200Google Scholar
  40. Koenig A (2000) Competitive regimes in forest-dwelling Hanuman langur females (Semnopithecus entellus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 48:93–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Koenig A, Beise J, Chalise MK, Ganzhorn JU (1998) When females should contest for food-testing hypotheses about resource density, distribution, size, and quality with Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 42:225–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Korstjens AH, Sterck EHM, Noe R (2002) How adaptive or phylogenetically inert is primate social behavior? A test with two sympatric colobines. Behaviour 139:203–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lawes MJ (2002) Conservation of fragmented populations of Cercopithcus mitis in South Africa: the role of reintroduction, corridors, and metapopulation ecology. In: Glenn M, Cords M (eds) The guenons: diversity and adaptation of African monkeys. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, pp 375–392Google Scholar
  44. Martins EP, Hansen TF (1996) The statistical analysis of interspecific data: a review and evaluation of phylogenetic comparative methods. In: Martins E (ed) Phylogenies and the comparative method in animal behavior. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 22–75Google Scholar
  45. Mitani JC, Rodman PS (1979) Territoriality: the relationship of ranging patterns and home range size to defendability, with an analysis of territoriality among primate species. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 5:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nunn CL, Barton RA (2000) Allometric slopes and independent contrasts: a comparative test of Kleiber’s Law in primate ranging patterns. Am Nat 156:519–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nunn CL, Altizer S, Jones KE, Sechrest W (2003) Comparative tests of parasite species richness in primates. Am Nat 162:597–614PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oates JF (1974) The ecology and behaviour of the black-and-white colobus monkey (Colobus guereza Ruppell) in East Africa. PhD Thesis, University of LondonGoogle Scholar
  49. Oates JF (1977) The guereza and its food. In: Clutton-Brock TH (ed) Primate ecology: studies of feeding and ranging behavior in lemurs, monkeys, and apes. Academic, New York, pp 275–321Google Scholar
  50. Oates JF (1978) Water-plant and soil consumption by guereza monkeys (Colobus guereza): a relationship with minerals and toxins in the diet. Biotropica 10:241–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Oates JF (1994) The natural history of African colobines. In: Davies AG, Oates JF (eds) Colobine monkeys: their ecology, behavior, and evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 75–128Google Scholar
  52. Pages G, Lloyd E, Suarez SA (2005) The impact of geophagy on ranging in Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus phayrei). Folia Primatol 76:342–346PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pereneger TV (1998) What’s wrong with Bonferroni adjustments. Br Med J 316:1236–1238Google Scholar
  54. Rode KD, Chapman CA, Chapman LJ, McDowell LR (2003) Mineral resource availability and consumption by colobus in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Int J Primatol 24:541–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Snaith TV, Chapman CA (2005) Towards an ecological solution to the folivores paradox: patch depletion as an indicator of within-group scramble competition in red colobus monkeys. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 25:185–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Struhsaker TT (1975) The red colobus monkey. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  57. Struhsaker TT (1997) Ecology of an African rain forest: logging in kibale and the conflict between conservation and exploitation. University Press of Florida, GainesvilleGoogle Scholar
  58. Thomas SC (1991) Population densities and patterns of habitat use among anthropoid primates of the Ituri Forest, Zaire. Biotropica 23:68–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wasserman MD, Chapman CA (2003) Determinants of colobine monkey abundance: the importance of food energy, protein and fibre content. J Anim Ecol 72:650–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wich SA, Nunn CL (2002) Do male “long-distance calls” function in mate defense? A comparative study of long-distance calls in primates. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 52:474–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wing LD, Buss IO (1970) Elephants and forests. Wildl Monogr 19:1–92Google Scholar
  62. Wrangham RW (1980) An ecological model of female-bonded primate groups. Behaviour 75:262–299Google Scholar
  63. Wrangham RW, Gittleman JL, Chapman CA (1993) Constraints on group size in primates and carnivores: population density and day-range as assays of exploitation competition. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 32:199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yamashita N (2002) Diets of two lemur species in different microhabitats in Beza Mahafaly special reserve, Madagascar. Int J Primatol 23:1025–1051CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PrimatologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s Conservation and Research CenterFront RoyalUSA
  4. 4.Department of Anthropology, School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronx ZooUSA

Personalised recommendations