Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 145–149 | Cite as

Why Feed on Fungi? The Nutritional Content of Sporocarps Consumed by Buffy-Headed Marmosets, Callithrix flaviceps (Primates: Callitrichidae), in Southeastern Brazil

  • Renato R. HilárioEmail author
  • Stephen Francis Ferrari


The typical diet of Callithrix marmosets is based on gums, although fungi are the dietary staple of a single group of Callithrix flaviceps studied in the Augusto Ruschi Biological Reserve, in southeastern Brazil. Here, we present the nutritional composition of two species of Mycocitrus fungi consumed by C. flaviceps, and discuss possible determinants of the preference of the marmosets for fungi over gums. The fungi were high in sugar/fiber and poor in proteins, and were similar in composition to the gums exploited by other marmosets and to the fungi consumed by Callimico goeldii. The reduced protein content of the fungi may be offset by the arthropod component of the diet of the Callithrix flaviceps study group. The low relative metabolic rate and enlarged cecum of Callithrix enable these marmosets to exploit foods with a high fiber content. In addition, the greater digestibility of chitin in comparison with plant fiber may make fungi a nutritionally more valuable resource to marmosets than gums. Marmosets, thus, may prefer to feed on fungi when an adequate supply of this resource is available in the environment.

Key Words

Mycophagy Atlantic forest Mycocitrus Diet Feeding choices Primate Callitrichidae 



We extend special thanks to Professor José Virgílio Coelho, who dosed the nutrient content of the fungi. We are also grateful to Tatiana Gibertoni and Jadergudson Pereira for identification of the fungi. We thank Eduardo Mignone, director of the Augusto Ruschi Reserve, Flávio Rodrigues, Adriano Chiarello, Kátia Corrêa, Milene Martins, Sérgio Mendes, Ítalo Mourthé, Waldney Martins, and Frederico Pereira. The project was supported by Idea Wild and US Fish and Wildlife Service, RRH by FAPEMIG and CAPES, and SFF by CNPq (process no. 302747/2008-7).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renato R. Hilário
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Stephen Francis Ferrari
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Systematics and Ecology, Universidade Federal da ParaíbaCidade UniversitáriaJoão PessoaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of General BiologyUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil

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