Dietary Profile, Food Composition, and Nutritional Intake of Female White-Faced Capuchins

  • Mackenzie L. Bergstrom
  • Amanda D. Melin
  • Monica S. Myers
  • Linda M. Fedigan
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Seasonal variation in food availability and nutritional intake can ultimately affect female reproductive success. Although many primate studies have looked at foraging behaviour as a measure of diet, nutritional ecology and associated physiological consequences are a relatively new area of research. We present data on variation in the dietary profiles, foraging behaviour, and nutritional intake of female white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus imitator) in response to temporal variation in food abundance within the home ranges of three groups in the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Sector Santa Rosa, Costa Rica. We estimated nutritional requirements based on published laboratory research and nutritional standards to determine whether females meet requirements in the face of seasonal variation in food abundance. Our results show that fruit contributed most to overall energy gain despite females devoting a greater proportion of foraging time to invertebrates; thus time spent foraging does not accurately reflect energy intake. On a dry matter basis, fruits provided the most important source of water-soluble carbohydrates, whereas high proportions of protein intake came from invertebrates, particularly when fruit availability was low. However, the greater weight of fruit items compared to invertebrates on a dry matter basis likely contributed to females’ ability to consume macronutrients at higher rates while foraging on fruit due to higher mass intake per unit time. Requirement estimates and observed intake revealed that there are times during low-fruit seasons in which females do not appear to meet their minimum nutritional requirements, warranting further investigation into the physiological consequences of this shortfall.


Nutrition Diet Seasonal variation Food availability Neotropical primate 



Thank you to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Technology (MINAET) of Costa Rica and the Animal Care Committee at the University of Calgary for permissions to conduct research. This project was also supported by Sr. R Blanco, MM Chavarria, and the staff of the Área de Conservación Guanacaste. Many field assistants and friends aided in the collection of valuable data for this project including M Myers, B Thankey, H Clouse, C Lees, B Kowalzik, Dr. C Turner Hogan, and S Chevez. R Espinoza, A Guadamuz, J Vargas, and R Franco provided valuable assistance with the identification of plant and invertebrate samples. We thank G Bridgett for logistical help with permits and Dr. J Addicott and J McQuade for assistance with data organization and database design. Thank you to Dr. E Vogel for contributing nutritional data and Drs. E Wikberg and F Campos for statistical guidance. The authors were supported by the following funding organizations: To MLB: The Leakey Foundation, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, International Primatological Society, Animal Behaviour Society, Sigma Xi, and University of Calgary. To ADM: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Canada Research Chairs Program. To LMF: NSERC and Canada Research Chairs Program.

Supplementary material

432332_1_En_11_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Appendices A to D (DOCX 47 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mackenzie L. Bergstrom
    • 1
  • Amanda D. Melin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Monica S. Myers
    • 1
  • Linda M. Fedigan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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