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Competition during sugarcane crop raiding by blond capuchin monkeys (Sapajus flavius)

Abstract

Shifting to fallback food (FBF) consumption and crop raiding are behavioral adjustments that support primates’ ability to endure in human-altered habitats. Nutritional models predict that the consumption of preferred foods leads to increased competition, while consumption of staple fallback foods results in decreased competition. We analyzed the competitive regime faced by individuals in a group of 133 blond capuchin monkeys (Sapajus flavius), an endangered species that inhabits a 270-ha fragment of Atlantic forest in northeast Brazil. During the study year, quantitative analyses show that fruits were a preferred food, while sugarcane was used as a staple FBF. As predicted by primate fallback foraging models, the consumption of sugarcane helped the group to survive in this fragment by providing these animals with half of the food they consumed throughout the year. Contrary to predictions, group dispersion increased with greater fruit abundance, while direct competition peaked during the consumption of sugarcane. We suggest that, although it is abundant and scattered in the area, the long handling time required to process sugarcane before consumption facilitates the direct competition. Overall, the pattern found indicates that consumption of a staple FBF does not directly translate into decreased competition and increased stability of social groups in forest fragments.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank José Henrique Barbosa Filho for his valuable company in the forest, Clayton Jeronimo for his help during fieldwork, and Yuri for the time spent habituating the monkeys. We are also grateful to the Usina TABU, especially the manager, Paulo, for the structural help to conduct this research. This research was supported by grants of the Fundação Grupo Boticario (0973-2013-8) and of the CNPq. Permission to work was granted by IBAMA-SISBIO 38855).

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Correspondence to Poliana Gabriele Alves de Souza Lins or Renata Gonçalves Ferreira.

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Lins, P.G.A.d.S., Ferreira, R.G. Competition during sugarcane crop raiding by blond capuchin monkeys (Sapajus flavius). Primates 60, 81–91 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-018-0698-z

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Keywords

  • Nutritional ecology
  • Socioecological models
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Conservation
  • Management
  • Human–primate conflicts