International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1382–1405 | Cite as

Dietary Diversity and Food Selection in Hanuman Langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) and Purple-Faced Langurs (Trachypithecus vetulus) in the Kaludiyapokuna Forest Reserve in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka

  • Rajnish P. VanderconeEmail author
  • Chameera Dinadh
  • Gayan Wijethunga
  • Kitsiri Ranawana
  • David T. Rasmussen


Understanding how ecological differences between sympatric species lead to coexistence is a fundamental question in primatology. Evidence for intraspecific dietary variation in colobines suggests that findings from a single study site may not be generalizable to other sites. Previous comparative studies of Semnopithecus entellus and Trachypithecus vetulus showed that S. entellus used seasonal plant parts more frequently than did T. vetulus. We examined whether these different food selection strategies can be generalized to explain the species' coexistence at a novel study locality. We collected dietary data for two groups of Semnopithecus entellus and one group of Trachypithecus vetulus between July 2008 and June 2009. We examined the monthly percentage of time devoted to feeding on specific dietary items in relation to their availability, compared the dietary niche breadth of the two species, and quantified the distribution and abundance of resources to examine the potential for intragroup and interspecific competition. Seasonal plant parts accounted for >90 % of the diets of both species and there were no significant differences in monthly dietary breadth or in the monthly proportions of time allocated to feeding on fruits, immature leaves, or mature leaves between the two species. Both species fed on fruits and flowers according to their availability, and most plants preferred by both primate species were relatively rare and clumped in distribution. Such resource distributions are suggested to promote both intragroup and interspecific competition. The food selection strategies of these two primate species are more similar at our study site than at previous study sites, and suggest that these species employ different strategies to facilitate coexistence at different sites.


Colobine Feeding ecology Species coexistence Sympatric primates 



This research was supported by grants from Primate Conservation Inc., Idea Wild, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund, Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Honors Society for Anthropology, and a Conservation Food and Health Foundation grant awarded to Rajnish Vandercone of Washington University. We also thank the Department of Wildlife Conservation for Sri Lanka for providing us with the necessary permission to conduct field work in Sri Lanka. The protocols described in this article were reviewed and approved by the Animal Studies Committee of Washington University and the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka. We are extremely grateful to Drs. Crickette Sanz and Jennifer Rehg for reading and providing valuable feedback of preliminary versions of the manuscript. We also thank Drs. Joanna Setchell and Oliver Schülke and two other anonymous referees for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajnish P. Vandercone
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Chameera Dinadh
    • 3
  • Gayan Wijethunga
    • 3
  • Kitsiri Ranawana
    • 4
  • David T. Rasmussen
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Applied SciencesRajarata University of Sri LankaMihintaleSri Lanka
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural SciencesOpen University of Sri LankaNawalaSri Lanka
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyUniversity of PeradeniyaPeradeniyaSri Lanka

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