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, 161 (2), 343-54

The Role of Leaf Toughness on Foraging Efficiency in Angola Black and White Colobus Monkeys (Colobus Angolensis Palliatus)

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The Role of Leaf Toughness on Foraging Efficiency in Angola Black and White Colobus Monkeys (Colobus Angolensis Palliatus)

Noah T Dunham et al. Am J Phys Anthropol.

Abstract

Objectives: Examining the relationships among foraging behavior, food mechanical properties, and masticatory morphology is a bourgeoning research topic among behavioral ecologists and functional morphologists. The purpose of this study was to assess the degree to which leaf toughness influences foraging efficiency with regard to ingestion rate, masticatory investment, and masticatory rate.

Methods: Diet and feeding data were collected on adults from three groups of Colobus angolensis palliatus in the Diani Forest, Kenya, from July 2014 to December 2015. Ingestion rates were estimated by counting the number of items consumed during feeding bouts and multiplying this value by the mean mass of a particular food item. The number of mastications was also counted during 3-5 minute focal periods. Mechanical toughness of commonly eaten young leaves (n = 27 species) and mature leaves (n = 13 species) was recorded using a toughness tester equipped with a razor blade.

Results: Ingestion rates (g/min) negatively correlated with leaf toughness (r(2) = 0.73; p < 0.01) while masticatory investment (chews/g) positively correlated with leaf toughness (r(2) = 0.72; p < 0.01). Chewing rate (chews/min) was remarkably consistent regardless of leaf species and toughness values (r(2) = 0.09; p = 0.07).

Discussion: Our findings highlight the degree to which toughness values can vary among leaves and how this variation can dramatically influence ingestion rates and chewing efficiency in black and white colobus monkeys. Studies that link food mechanical properties with oral processing behaviors will ultimately provide important context for understanding craniofacial and dentognathic traits in primates.

Keywords: chewing behavior; feeding ecology; food mechanical properties; ingestion rate.

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