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Primates

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 125–135 | Cite as

Overwintering strategy of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys: adjustments in activity scheduling and foraging patterns

  • Cyril C. GrueterEmail author
  • Dayong Li
  • Baoping Ren
  • Ming Li
Original Article Special contributions ‘Out of the tropics: Ecology of temperate primates’

Abstract

Temperate forests are characterized by pronounced climatic and phenological seasonality. Primates inhabiting such environments experience prolonged resource scarcity and low ambient temperatures in winter and are expected to adjust time allocation and foraging behavior so as to maintain their energy balance. We analyzed the activity scheduling of a group of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) based on data collected over 20 months in the high-altitude (>3000 m) Samage Forest, Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve, PRC. The forest consists of evergreen conifers and oaks and deciduous broadleaf trees. The diet varied seasonally, with young leaves preferentially exploited in spring and fruits in summer. The monkeys subsisted on readily available fallback resources (mainly lichens) in winter [Grueter et al. in (Am J Phys Anthropol 140:700–715, 2009)]. We predicted that this switch to a relatively low-quality diet would prompt an increase in feeding effort and decrease in moving effort. We found that the monkeys spent significantly more time feeding in winter than in the other seasons. The monthly time devoted to feeding was also negatively correlated with temperature and positively with percentage of lichens in the diet. Time spent on moving did not vary among seasons or with temperature, but day-journey length was found to be longer on hotter days. Time spent resting was lower in winter and under colder conditions and was also negatively correlated with time spent feeding, indicating that resting time is converted into feeding time during times of ecological stress. These results indicate a strong effect of seasonality on time allocation patterns, constraints on inactivity phases, and the prevalence of an energy-conserving foraging strategy in winter, when costs of thermoregulation were high and the availability of preferred food was low.

Keywords

Rhinopithecus China Foraging strategy Time budget Temperate forest 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For assistance in the field we are most grateful to Shunkai Feng (“Lao Feng”), Xuesheng Feng, and Xuewen Feng. We appreciate the editorial work by Juichi Yamagiwa and the helpful comments given by Ken Sayers and two anonymous reviewers. Discussions with Goro Hanya and Yamato Tsuji helped to improve the quality of this paper. We also thank Yongmei Luo for help with GIS analyses. Financial support for this work was generously provided by Janggen-Pöhn-Stiftung, A. H. Schultz Stiftung, Zürcher Tierschutz, G. & A. Claraz-Schenkung, Goethe-Stiftung, Jane Goodall Institute Schweiz, Kommission für Reisestipendien der Schweizerischen Akademie der Naturwissenschaften SANW, Offield Family Foundation, Primate Conservation, Inc., Zoological Society of San Diego, and the Primate Action Fund of Conservation International. This research complies with the laws of China.

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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyril C. Grueter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dayong Li
    • 2
  • Baoping Ren
    • 3
  • Ming Li
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.College of Life SciencesChina West Normal UniversityNanchongChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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