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The feeding ecology and dietary overlap in two sympatric primate species, the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and dusky langur (Trachypithecus obscurus obscurus), in Malaysia

Abstract

Knowledge about the feeding ecology and dietary overlap of sympatric primates is essential for understanding how animals avoid or reduce interspecific competition. From April 2014 to March 2015, we investigated the feeding ecologies of two sympatric primates, a hindgut fermenter, the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and a foregut fermenter, the dusky langur (Trachypithecus obscurus obscurus), in a mixed landscape consisting of urban and agro-forested areas and forest fragments in Malaysia. We collected a total of 5570 and 4029 of feeding records for M. fascicularis and T. o. obscurus, respectively, using the 10-min scan sampling method. Food availability and seasonal changes in plant species consumed by both study groups were determined by vegetation surveys carried out across an area of 1.6 ha. A total of 113 and 130 plant species were consumed by M. fascicularis and T. o. obscurus, respectively. Leaves (51%) and fruits (40%) accounted for the majority of the feeding records in T. o. obscurus, whereas fruits (32%) and anthropogenic foods (27%) together with leaves (15%) and insects (6%) accounted for the majority of the feeding records for M. fascicularis. Throughout the year, there were 59 consumed plant species common to both species, and the dietary overlap was the highest for fruits. Although leaves were always more abundant than fruits in our study site, the amount of monthly fruit eating by the two species showed a significant correlation with that of fruit availability. Monthly fruit availability had a positive effect on overall monthly dietary overlap while flower and leaf availability had a negative effect. We showed that fruit was the preferred food resource of two sympatric species with different digestive systems. This could have implications for resource competition, interspecific competition, and niche separation, which should be investigated in more detail.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malaysia Peninsula, for providing necessary funding, facilities, and assistance. The research was conducted under research permit approved by Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malaysia Peninsula (JPHL&TN(IP):100-34/1.24 Jld 9 (40). We thank Ahmad Fitri Zohari for plant species identification. This research was supported by Grants AP-2015-004, FRGS/1/2012/STWN10/UKM/02/3, TD-2014-022, and DLP-2013-006. This study was also partly financed by Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (A) (26711027 to IM), JSPS Core-to-Core Program, Advanced Research Networks (to S. Koshima), and the Cooperative Research Program by KUPRI (2016-B-98 to FR). Finally, we thank Goro Hanya and John C.M. Sha for their helpful suggestions and comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Badrul Munir Md-Zain.

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Appendix I: Food items and parts of each item consumed by M. fascicularis from April 2014 to March 2015. Appendix II: Food items and parts of each item consumed by T. o. obscurus from April 2014 to March 2015

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Ruslin, F., Matsuda, I. & Md-Zain, B.M. The feeding ecology and dietary overlap in two sympatric primate species, the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and dusky langur (Trachypithecus obscurus obscurus), in Malaysia. Primates 60, 41–50 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-018-00705-w

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Keywords

  • Long-tailed macaque
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Dusky langur
  • Trachypithecus obscurus obscurus
  • Feeding ecology