Individuals in urban dwelling primate species face unequal benefits associated with living in an anthropogenic environment

Abstract

In primates, living in an anthropogenic environment can significantly improve an individual’s fitness, which is likely attributed to access to anthropogenic food resources. However, in non-professionally provisioned groups, few studies have examined whether individual attributes, such as dominance rank and sex, affect primates’ ability to access anthropogenic food. Here, we investigated whether rank and sex explain individual differences in the proportion of anthropogenic food consumed by macaques. We observed 319 individuals living in nine urban groups across three macaque species. We used proportion of anthropogenic food in the diet as a proxy of access to those food resources. Males and high-ranking individuals in both sexes had significantly higher proportions of anthropogenic food in their diets than other individuals. We speculate that unequal access to anthropogenic food resources further increases within-group competition, and may limit fitness benefits in an anthropogenic environment to certain individuals.

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Acknowledgements

We are thankful to the Economic Planning Unit Malaysia, the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, Tourism Selangor, the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, and the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department for giving permission to conduct our research in Malaysia and India. We thank our research assistants Camille Luccisano, Eduardo Saczek, Silvia La Gala, Nur Atiqua Tahir, Shelby Samartino, Rachael Hume, Taniya Gill, Kawaljit Kaur, Bidisha Chakraborty, Benjamin Sipes, Nalina Aiempichitkijkarn Pooja Dongre, Mohammed Ismail, Megha Majoe, Rajarshi Saha, Alvaro Sobrino, and Menno Van Berkel for their help in collecting data. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Grant no. 1518555).

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Marty, P.R., Balasubramaniam, K.N., Kaburu, S.S.K. et al. Individuals in urban dwelling primate species face unequal benefits associated with living in an anthropogenic environment. Primates 61, 249–255 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-019-00775-4

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Keywords

  • Anthropogenic food
  • Urban environment
  • Macaques
  • Foraging