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Isoscapes pp 319–333Cite as

Toward a δ13C Isoscape for Primates

Abstract

A primate δ13C isoscape is not yet available; but pilot data on nine different primate populations that all have extensive and detailed information on diet and habitat use suggest clinal variation associated with canopy cover. The nine C3-feeding primate species from MesoAmerica, South America, Africa and Madagascar have δ13C values that vary by 6‰ in association with reported canopy cover irrespective of their specific diets. Capuchin and spider monkeys from tropical wet forest with continuous forest canopy in Costa Rica have the lowest values. Costa Rican howler monkeys, Brazilian muriqui monkeys, two Kenyan prosimian species, and a population of chimpanzees from the DRC live in areas with broken forest canopy and show intermediate values. The highest values occur in a Madagascar prosimian species and a second population of Tanzanian chimpanzees who live in open savanna woodlands. Newly published data on sifakas (a large prosiman species) and Lemur catta (a cat-sized ground-living lemur) from Madagascar, and a third population of chimpanzees from Senegal, which have less-detailed dietary information, have δ13C values that generally fit expectations based on accounts of their habitat canopy cover. If confirmed through additional studies, a primate isoscape could reveal a range of habitats inhabited by primates collected in the last century and now housed in museums with only general location information. Applied to the human fossil record, the preliminary primate δ13C isoscape suggests open country adaptations of early fossil hominins and open country hunting by Neandertals.

Keywords

  • Canopy Cover
  • Spider Monkey
  • Tooth Enamel
  • Howler Monkey
  • Deciduous Woodland

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.

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Acknowledgements

Thank you to Gabriel Bowen for inviting me to attend Isoscapes 2008 and to present something from the physical anthropology perspective. I probably learned more than did my audience. Also, Todd Dawson handled the review process, and I greatly appreciate the time and effort given by Brittany Graham in this regard. To Jason West, a special thanks for multiple email discussions, which opened a whole new research vista for some of my students and myself. None of the studies summarized in this manuscript would have been possible without support from multiple divisions within the National Science Foundation.

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Schoeninger, M.J. (2010). Toward a δ13C Isoscape for Primates. In: West, J., Bowen, G., Dawson, T., Tu, K. (eds) Isoscapes. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-3354-3_15

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