, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 14–27 | Cite as

Measuring the relationship between dietary quality and body size in primates

  • Lee Douglas Sailer
  • Steven J. C. Gaulin
  • James S. Boster
  • Jeffrey A. Kurland


The feeding niche and the body size of any species are fundamental parameters that constrain the evolution of many other phenotypic characters. Moreover, previous work has shown that body size and diet are correlated, as a consequence of the negative allometry of metabolic rate. Unfortunately, the precise form of the association between body size and diet has never been specified, principally because no suitable cross-species measure of diet has been advanced. Here we develop a measure of diet that is sensitive over the whole spectrum of primate feeding niches, and use this measure to define the relationship between body size and diet for a sample of 72 primate species. Subsequently, we present several examples of how behavioral and ecological hypotheses can be tested by examining the extent to which particular species deviate from the general diet-body size pattern.

Key Words

Primates Jarman-Bell principle Methods Cross-species comparison Feeding strategy 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Douglas Sailer
    • 1
  • Steven J. C. Gaulin
    • 1
  • James S. Boster
    • 2
  • Jeffrey A. Kurland
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Science and Technology StudiesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.A.

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