Seasonal Food Use Strategies of Semnopithecus vetulus nestor, at Panadura and Piliyandala, Sri Lanka
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- Dela, J.D.S. Int J Primatol (2007) 28: 607. doi:10.1007/s10764-007-9150-8
Field studies on Semnopithecus vetulus have shown high folivory and the ability to feed heavily on mature leaves, which are constantly available. In research spanning 19 mo, I examined the feeding behavior of 2 free-ranging groups of Semnopithecus vetulus nestor in home gardens and rubber monocultures at Panadura (PT1 group) and Piliyandala (R1 group), Sri Lanka. Overall, results showed that >80% of their diet comprised seasonal plant parts, largely fruits. Despite differences in spatial and temporal food availability in their respective habitats, seasonal plant parts dominated the diets of both groups except briefly (2 mo) for R1 when mature leaf petioles were the main plant food. Both groups increased their use of seasonal foods with heightened seasonal food availability, and increased dietary diversity with declining use of their highest-ranked specific item of diet: fruits of Artocarpus heterophyllus (jakfruit, Moraceae). PT1, which was in a species-rich environment, maintained a high intake of seasonal foods year round by exploiting a large number of species, mainly for fruits. In contrast, R1, in a habitat with significantly lower tree species richness, had a less diverse diet but maintained an equally high intake of seasonal foods, primarily fruits and seeds, by exploiting a few species heavily. My study also highlights the dietary flexibility of a single colobine species in space and time. Such information is useful for conservation planning because rapidly occurring changes are taking place in natural colobine habitats.