Ecological Niches in Undisturbed and Disturbed Forest
A tropical rainforest seems to offer an inexhaustible food supply, at least for leaf-eaters and especially for those able to climb. But appearances deceive. Leaf-eaters must use as much care in choosing their meal as any hiker does in looking for edible plants in the wild. The green inhabitants of the forest know well how to protect themselves against being eaten. Most woody plants contain, large quantities of tannins or other phenolics making them inedible or impossible to digest. Herbs, on the other hand, often contain complex poisonous substances called alkaloids. In a test conducted in two areas of African rainforest, only 10% of the leaves sampled did not contain either tannins or alkaloids. Many plants growing on soils poor in nutrients and on sandy soil seem to contain especially high quantities of tannins and phenolics since these substances do a good job of keeping plant-eaters at a distance .
KeywordsHome Range Secondary Forest Closed Forest Secondary Vegetation Monkey Species
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