Objectives: Except for owl monkeys (Aotus spp.), all anthropoid primates are considered strictly diurnal. Recent studies leveraging new technologies have shown, however, that some diurnal anthropoids also engage in nocturnal activity. Here we examine the extent to which vervets (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) and olive baboons (Papio anubis) are active at night.
Materials and methods: We deployed GPS collars with tri-axial accelerometer data loggers on 18 free-ranging adult females: 12 vervets spread among 5 social groups, and 6 olive baboons spread among 4 groups. Their locations were recorded every 15 min, and their activity levels, for 3 s/min over 7.5 months. We also used camera traps that were triggered by heat and movement at seven sleeping sites.
Results: Travel was detected on 0.4% of 2,029 vervet-nights involving 3 vervets and 1.1% of 1,109 baboon-nights involving 5 baboons. Travel was mainly arboreal for vervets but mainly terrestrial for baboons. During the night, vervets and baboons were active 13% and 15% of the time, respectively. Activity varied little throughout the night and appeared unaffected by moon phase.
Discussion: Our results confirm the low nocturnality of vervets and olive baboons, which we suggest is related to living near the equator with consistent 12-hr days, in contrast to other anthropoids that are more active at night. Since anthropoid primates are thought to have evolved in northern latitudes, with later dispersal to tropical latitudes, our results may have implications for understanding the evolution of anthropoid diurnality.
Keywords: anthropoid primates; evolution of diurnality; nocturnality.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.