11 The Biology and Evolution of Ape and Monkey Feeding

  • Joanna E. Lambert
Reference work entry


Like all animals, primates must garner sufficient energy and nutrients from their habitat to accomplish other biological imperatives such as mating and avoiding predators. The order Primates exhibits an extraordinary diversity of feeding and foraging-related adaptations to meet this imperative, some of which are shared with other taxa, others of which are unique to primates. In this chapter, I explore the evolutionary underpinnings of these adaptations as well as evaluate their ecological implications. I first discuss several unique aspects of primate feeding biology, including the evolution of large brains, trichromatic color vision, and tool use. I then move on to evaluate the fundamental problems of plant fiber and chemical defenses and conclude by arguing that primate adaptations for fermenting fiber and detoxifying plant chemical defenses have implications for primate species adaptations, density, and diversity since the Miocene. Because of the implications for understanding adaptations in our own lineage, in this latter section I pay particular attention to African primates; I employ a strongly comparative approach and evaluate hominoid feeding biology in light of what we know about Cercopithecoidea.


Ripe Fruit Color Vision Brain Size Spider Monkey Howler Monkey 
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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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2007

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  • Joanna E. Lambert

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