Food patch structure and plant resource partitioning in interspecific associations of amazonian tamarins

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Ávila-Pires' saddle-back tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis avilapiresi) and red-cap moustached tamarins (S. mystax pileatus), coexisting in highly stable mixed-species groups, overlapped considerably in their use of plant food resources at an Amazonian terra firme forest site. Overlap between food types consumed by the two species was particularly high during periods of lowest fruit availability, when they resorted to a common food supply, primarily the pod exudates of two emergent species of legume trees (Parkia nitida and Parkia pendula) and nectar of Symphonia globulifera. Within-group interspecific competition did not covary with independent measures of resource availability, contrary to predictions based on resource partitioning models. A greater number of both saddle-back and moustached tamarins were able to feed for longer patch residence periods within larger and more productive food patches, whereas small and clumped patches could be monopolized by the socially and numerically dominant moustached tamarins to the physical exclusion of the smaller-bodied saddle-back tamarins. Overall rates of interspecific aggression were extremely low, however, partly because patches that could be monopolized contributed with a minor proportion of either species' diet. Saddle-backs foraged at lower levels in the understory and encountered smaller food patches more often, whereas moustached tamarins foraged higher and encountered more larger patches in the middle canopy. Although the two species led one another to differently-sized patches, moustached tamarins initiated most feeding bouts and encountered significantly larger and more productive patches that tended to accommodate the entire mixed-species group. Disadvantages of exploitative and interference feeding competition over plant resources, and advantages of shared knowledge of food patches, are but one component of the overall cost-benefit relationship of interspecific associations in tamarins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number695
Pages (from-to)695-723
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1996


  • Amazonia
  • food patch
  • mixed-species groups
  • resource partitioning
  • Saguinus

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