, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 351–363 | Cite as

Effects of food availability and climate on activity patterns of western black-crested gibbons in an isolated forest fragment in southern Yunnan, China

  • Qingyong NiEmail author
  • Meng Xie
  • Cyril C. Grueter
  • Xuelong Jiang
  • Huailiang Xu
  • Yongfang Yao
  • Mingwang Zhang
  • Yan Li
  • Jiandong Yang
Original Article


The critically endangered western black-crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor) is distributed in isolated habitat fragments in northern Vietnam, northwestern Laos, and southwestern China. To assess the behavioral adaptation of this species to forest fragments and its response to seasonal variation in food availability and climate, we present activity patterns of a group inhabiting an isolated forest based on two year-long studies in southern Yunnan, China. Annually, the gibbons spent nearly half of their active time resting, followed by moving and feeding. In both study periods, the time allocated to activities varied significantly between months, and was affected by food availability and climate factors. The group delayed retirement when tree fruit was abundant, and they decreased time spent moving and playing during periods of low fruit availability. In the cold months, the gibbons decreased time spent moving, and they decreased active time and resting time when rainfall was high. The results suggest that the group may seek to maximize net energy intake like energy maximizers when high quality food is most available, and adopt an energy-conserving strategy during periods of lower food availability and temperature. The gibbons showed similar diurnal variation in activity patterns to a group inhabiting a continuous forest at Dazhaizi, Mt. Wuliang, central Yunnan. However, they had a longer active period, and devoted more time to resting but less time to feeding. The individuals also spent lower percentages of time engaged in social behavior than those at Dazhaizi. These differences may be due to their smaller home range and unusual group composition caused by habitat fragmentation.


Time budget Nomascus concolor Seasonal variation Temperature and rainfall Habitat fragmentation 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31301892, 31070349). We thank the Forestry Bureau of Honghe Prefecture and local governments at Bajiaohe and Yingpan Township. We also thank our field assistants, Mr. Liang Zongli, Mr. Huang Yao and Mr. Deng Ruo for their kind help. We are grateful to Dr. Warren Brockelman, Dr. Thad Q. Bartlett and one anonymous reviewer for constructive comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingyong Ni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meng Xie
    • 2
  • Cyril C. Grueter
    • 3
  • Xuelong Jiang
    • 4
  • Huailiang Xu
    • 1
  • Yongfang Yao
    • 1
  • Mingwang Zhang
    • 1
  • Yan Li
    • 1
  • Jiandong Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Animal Sciences and TechnologySichuan Agricultural UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Life SciencesSichuan Agricultural UniversityYaanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingPeople’s Republic of China

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