Mycophagy among Japanese macaques in Yakushima: fungal species diversity and behavioral patterns
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Mycophagy (fungus-feeding) by Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui) in Yakushima has been observed by many researchers, but no detailed information is available on this behavior, including which fungal species are consumed. To provide a general description of mycophagy and to understand how and whether macaques avoid poisonous fungi, we conducted behavioral observation of wild Japanese macaques in Yakushima and used molecular techniques to identify fungal species. The results indicate that the diet of the macaques contains a large variety of fungal species (67 possible species in 31 genera), although they compose a very small portion of the total diet (2.2 % of annual feeding time). Fungi which were eaten by macaques immediately after they were picked up were less likely to be poisonous than those which were examined (sniffed, nibbled, carefully handled) by macaques. However, such examining behaviors did not appear to increase the macaques’ abilities to detect poisonous fungi. Fungi that were only partially consumed included more poisonous species than those fully consumed with/without examining behavior, yet this was not significant. Taste, therefore, might also play an important role in discriminating poisonous from non-poisonous.
KeywordsJapanese macaque Macaca fuscata yakui Mycophagy Poisonous fungi Fungal diversity
The authors would like to express their gratitude to Drs. K. Watanabe, T. Furuichi, H. Imai and E. Sakaguchi for their great advice for this study. We are grateful to the members of the Department of Ecology and Social Behavior for their informative comments and advice. We are thankful to Mr. T. Saito for his great help in establishing phenology plots and to Yakushima Forest Environment Conservation Center and Kagoshima Prefectural Government for permission to carry out field research and sample collection on Yakushima. We also thank all our colleagues and friends who visited and stayed at Yakushima Field Station, Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University, for sharing their valuable information and insights. This study was financially supported by JSPS/MEXT Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows (No. 225374) to AS, JSPS-MEXT Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research (No. 23657018) and for Young Scientists (No. 20770195) to GH, and Global COE Program “Formation of a Strategic Base for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Research: from Genome to Ecosystem”. This research adhered to the guidelines established by KUPRI and the legal requirements in Japan.
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