International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 607–626 | Cite as

Seasonal Food Use Strategies of Semnopithecus vetulus nestor, at Panadura and Piliyandala, Sri Lanka

  • Jinie D. S. DelaEmail author
Special Issue: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation of Colobine Monkeys


Field studies on Semnopithecus vetulus have shown high folivory and the ability to feed heavily on mature leaves, which are constantly available. In research spanning 19 mo, I examined the feeding behavior of 2 free-ranging groups of Semnopithecus vetulus nestor in home gardens and rubber monocultures at Panadura (PT1 group) and Piliyandala (R1 group), Sri Lanka. Overall, results showed that >80% of their diet comprised seasonal plant parts, largely fruits. Despite differences in spatial and temporal food availability in their respective habitats, seasonal plant parts dominated the diets of both groups except briefly (2 mo) for R1 when mature leaf petioles were the main plant food. Both groups increased their use of seasonal foods with heightened seasonal food availability, and increased dietary diversity with declining use of their highest-ranked specific item of diet: fruits of Artocarpus heterophyllus (jakfruit, Moraceae). PT1, which was in a species-rich environment, maintained a high intake of seasonal foods year round by exploiting a large number of species, mainly for fruits. In contrast, R1, in a habitat with significantly lower tree species richness, had a less diverse diet but maintained an equally high intake of seasonal foods, primarily fruits and seeds, by exploiting a few species heavily. My study also highlights the dietary flexibility of a single colobine species in space and time. Such information is useful for conservation planning because rapidly occurring changes are taking place in natural colobine habitats.


Artocarpus feeding strategies fruit use seasonal food use Semnopithecus vetulus nestor 



The Natural Resources Energy and Science Authority of Sri Lanka provided financial support for my work through Grant MAB/85/1. I thank Mr. L. de Alwis and Prof. S. W. Kotagama for their help in obtaining funds and their strong support throughout the study. I also thanks my chief Ph.D. supervisor Dr. W. P. J. Dittus for advice and critical comments and Prof. W. R. Breckenridge of the University of Peradeniya for his continued support and encouragement. I thank the Public Trustee and estate staff for permission to work at Regidale Estate Piliyandala and the householders at both study sites for permission to carry out the research in their home gardens. I thank M. L. Soma Perera, Jane, Aslin, and Badra for field assistance. I specifically thank Ms. Neela De Zoysa-Simon for identification of plant specimens, Ms. Gayathree Jayasinghe for statistical advice, Mr. Milton Liyanage for line drawings, and Ms. Vasanthi Wijesekera for help in preparing the manuscript. I also thank my external examiner, Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, for the comments on my Ph.D. thesis in relation to future publications. I particularly thank the National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka, and the Ford Foundation, New Delhi, for financing my participation at the XX Congress of the International Primatological Society in 2004 to present the paper. I also acknowledge the support extended by Dr. Peter Fashing to promote my participation at the XX IPS Congress and for comments made during preparation of the article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Etambagoda PanaduraSri Lanka

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