Determinants of spatial behavior of a tropical forest seed predator: The roles of optimal foraging, dietary diversification, and home range defense

Suzanne Palminteri, George V N Powell, Carlos A. Peres

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Specialized seed predators in tropical forests may avoid seasonal food scarcity and interspecific feeding competition but may need to diversify their daily diet to limit ingestion of any given toxin. Seed predators may, therefore, adopt foraging strategies that favor dietary diversity and resource monitoring, rather than efficient energy intake, as suggested by optimal foraging theory. We tested whether fine-scale space use by a small-group-living seed predator-the bald-faced saki monkey (Pithecia irrorata)-reflected optimization of short-term foraging efficiency, maximization of daily dietary diversity, and/or responses to the threat of territorial encroachment by neighboring groups. Food patches across home ranges of five adjacent saki groups were widely spread, but areas with higher densities of stems or food species were not allocated greater feeding time. Foraging patterns-specifically, relatively long daily travel paths that bypassed available fruiting trees and relatively short feeding bouts in undepleted food patches-suggest a strategy that maximizes dietary diversification, rather than "optimal" foraging. Travel distance was unrelated to the proportion of seeds in the diet. Moreover, while taxonomically diverse, the daily diets of our study groups were no more species-rich than randomly derived diets based on co-occurring available food species. Sakis preferentially used overlapping areas of their HRs, within which adjacent groups shared many food trees, yet the density of food plants or food species in these areas was no greater than in other HR areas. The high likelihood of depletion by neighboring groups of otherwise enduring food sources may encourage monitoring of peripheral food patches in overlap areas, even if at the expense of immediate energy intake, suggesting that between-group competition is a key driver of fine-scale home range use in sakis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-533
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Day path
  • Foraging
  • Pitheciines
  • Ranging behavior
  • Territoriality

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