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Primates

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 201–215 | Cite as

Feeding strategies of primates in temperate and alpine forests: comparison of Asian macaques and colobines

  • Yamato TsujiEmail author
  • Goro Hanya
  • Cyril C. Grueter
Review Article Special contributions ‘Out of the tropics: Ecology of temperate primates’

Abstract

We analyzed regional variation in the diets of two primate clades, Asian macaques and colobines, whose distributions include temperate–alpine forests. We addressed feeding strategies that enabled them to adapt to harsh environments characterized by relatively low mean temperatures and strong seasonality in both temperature and food availability. Macaques in tropical–lowland forests feed mainly on fruit and animal matter whereas populations in temperate–alpine forests feed more on foliage and on such items as bark and fungi. In comparison, colobines in tropical–lowland forests feed more on fruit and foliage whereas populations in temperate–alpine forests feed less on flowers and more on lichens. Annual precipitation and mean temperature, both of which reflect primary production, had the most significant effects on the feeding behavior of the macaques, whereas only mean temperature had a significant effect on that of colobines. We found two behavioral strategies used by both clades to cope with severe environmental conditions in temperate–alpine forests—shifting to other food items and adjusting feeding plasticity for fruit and foliage. Macaques responded to latitudinal changes by use of both strategies whereas the colobines adapted by using the latter only. By contrast, changes in altitude resulted in the macaques’ using the latter strategy and colobines’ using both. The different current distributions of Asian macaques and colobines could be attributed to differences in their feeding strategies originating in their digestive systems.

Keywords

Alpine environment Colobine Food habits Latitude Macaque Precipitation Temperate environment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank DA Hill, AJ MacIntosh, MA Huffman, T Iwamoto, RC Kirkpatrick, N Ménard, HH Su, M Uchikoshi, T Yumoto, and P Zhang for providing unpublished/supplemental data used in this study, and N Nakagawa and AH Korstjens, an anonymous reviewer, and members of the Department of Ecology and Social Behavior in the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University for their constructive comments on an earlier version of our manuscript. We also thank N. Kutsukake for his helpful advice on the statistical analysis used here. This study was funded by the Kyoto University Foundation (to YT) and by a Grant-in-Aid for young researchers (B) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS, No. 23780160, to YT).

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© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  2. 2.School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human BiologyThe University of Western Australia CrawleyAustralia

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