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Bat Predation by Cercopithecus Monkeys: Implications for Zoonotic Disease Transmission

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The relationship between bats and primates, which may contribute to zoonotic disease transmission, is poorly documented. We provide the first behavioral accounts of predation on bats by Cercopithecus monkeys, both of which are known to harbor zoonotic disease. We witnessed 13 bat predation events over 6.5 years in two forests in Kenya and Tanzania. Monkeys sometimes had prolonged contact with the bat carcass, consuming it entirely. All predation events occurred in forest-edge or plantation habitat. Predator–prey relations between bats and primates are little considered by disease ecologists, but may contribute to transmission of zoonotic disease, including Ebolavirus.

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This research was funded by Grants from the US-NSF (BCS05–54747, BCS10-2847), FAU (DOR-FY14, B09-377, Anthropology Department), and Sigma Xi. We thank Dr. Anthony Collins for alerting us to one of the events of bat predation at Gombe, and early discussion of the significance of bat eating to zoonotic research. We gratefully acknowledge our field assistants, the Gombe Stream Research Center, COSTECH, TANAPA, TAWIRI, Government of Kenya, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology/CEKATFOS, and Kenya Forest and Wildlife Services.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Tapanes.

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Supplementary material 1 (MP4 181799 kb) S1. Video clip showing C. mitis emitting ant vocalizations while eating a pteropodid bat, likely Eidolon helvum. Video by first author

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Tapanes, E., Detwiler, K.M. & Cords, M. Bat Predation by Cercopithecus Monkeys: Implications for Zoonotic Disease Transmission. EcoHealth 13, 405–409 (2016).

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