Exudativory in Primates: Interspecific Patterns

  • Andrew C. Smith
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


This chapter reviews the extent of primate gummivory, identifies phylogentic patterns in the degree of gummivory across primates, and examines overlap in the plant species whose exudates are consumed. Plant exudates are exploited both routinely and opportunistically by at least 69 species of strepsirrhine, platyrrhine, and catarrhine primates. Gummivory is particularly prevalent among the callitrichids, cheirogaleids, and galagos in terms of the number of species reported to consume gum, its contribution to their diet, and the number of plant species they exploit for it. While some marmosets, galagos and the fork-marked lemur are thought of as gum specialists, exudates may account for more than 10% of the diet in many other species. Gum feeding may increase further during periods of dry season resource scarcity with some, most notably Parkia pod gums, acting as a keystone resource for many New World monkeys. Exudates from at least 250 plant species in 170 genera and 63 families are eaten, with Fabaceae and Anacardiaceae being the most frequently exploited. The Callitrichidae were examined for patterns in the amount of gum they consumed. Differences in the prevalence of gummivory were linked to morphological adaptations, particularly dentition, and habitat seasonality. Cluster analysis of the plant families exploited by different primate genera revealed similarities based on the number of families they exploited for gums.


Plant Family Mouse Lemur Lion Tamarin Grey Mouse Lemur Yellow Baboon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Dr Anne Burrows for inviting me to participate in the symposium on the evolution of exudativory in primates at the XXIIth Congress of the International Primatological Society. This chapter benefited from Anne’s comments and those of Leanne Nash and two anonymous reviewers. Dr Philip Pugh conducted the cluster analysis and provided comments on an early draft of this manuscript. Financial support was provided by Anglia Ruskin University’s Animal and Environmental Research Group and Central Sabbatical Scheme.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Animal and Environmental Research Group, Department of Life SciencesAnglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK

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