Prey-capture benefits in a mixed-species group of Amazonian tamarins, Saguinus fuscicollis and S. mystax

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Tamarins of the genus Saguinus feed on a wide range of arthropods and small vertebrates, which compose a critical component of their diet. This paper examines the foraging patterns and capture success of the Avila-Peres saddle-back (S. fuscicollis avilapiresi) and the red-capped moustached tamarin (S. mystax pileatus) in very stable mixed-species groups, and whether and how any foraging benefits for either species resulted from their association. Moustached tamarins actively searched for prey items which were mainly well exposed on the midstorey foliage. Saddle-back tamarins, on the other hand, foraged at lower heights, largely by manipulating a variety of microhabitats potentially concealing embedded prey. The foraging activity of the numerically dominant and larger-bodied moustached tamarins often resulted in prey items escaping to lower substrates, usually the forest leaf-litter. The "beating effect" of this species substantially facilitated captures of large, mobile prey items by saddle-backs, which were highly adept at locating and retrieving flushed prey. It is estimated that, while saddle-backs obtained 66-73% of their prey biomass from flushed items, this proportion was substantially lower (2-9%) for moustached tamarins. Commensal insectivory appears to involve a highly asymmetric benefit to saddle-backs, and a low cost to moustached tamarins, which partly explains the stability of mixed-species groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes

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