International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 971–998

Dietary Response of Chimpanzees and Cercopithecines to Seasonal Variation in Fruit Abundance. II. Macronutrients

  • Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain
  • Richard W. Wrangham
  • Kevin D. Hunt


In a continuation of our study of dietary differentiation among frugivorous primates with simple stomachs, we present the first comparison of differences in dietary macronutrient content between chimpanzees and cercopithecine monkeys. Previously we have shown that chimpanzee and monkey diets differ markedly in plant part and species content. We now examine whether this diet diversity is reflected in markedly different dietary macronutrient levels or the different feeding strategies yield the same macronutrient levels in their diets. For each primate group we calculated the total weighted mean dietary content of 4 macronutrients: crude lipid (lipid), crude protein (CP), water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC). We also calculated 4 fiber fractions: neutral-detergent fiber (NDF), which includes the subfractions hemicellulose (HC), cellulose (Cs), and sulfuric acid lignin (Ls). The HC and Cs are potentially fermentable fibers and would contribute to the energy provided by plant food, depending on the hind gut fermenting capacity of the individual primate species. The chimpanzee diet contained higher levels of WSC and TNC because during times of fruit abundance the chimpanzees took special advantage of ripe fruit, while the monkeys did not. The monkey diets contained higher levels of CP because the monkeys consumed a constant amount of leaf throughout the year. All four primate species consumed diets with similar NDF levels. However, the chimpanzees also took advantage of periods of ripe fruit abundance to decrease their Ls levels and to increase their HC levels. Conversely, the monkey diets maintained constant levels of the different fiber fractions thoughout the year. Nevertheless, despite these differences, the diets of the 4 frugivores were surprisingly similar, considering the substantial differences in body size. We conclude that the chimpanzee diet is of higher quality, particularly of lower fiber content, than expected on the basis of their body size.

diet ape monkey protein lipid fiber sugar seasonality 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain
    • 1
  • Richard W. Wrangham
    • 1
  • Kevin D. Hunt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Peabody MuseumHarvard UniversityCambridge
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyIndiana UniversityBloomington

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