1Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 2Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, 3Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell, Germany, 4Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin
Thursday 1:30-1:45, Galleria South
Socio-ecological models predict that food resource distributions should fundamentally influence social interactions within and between primate groups. For example, clumped, defensible food resources should promote aggressive between-group interactions while large, low quality feeding patches should merely cause indirect, density-dependent competition. However, these models do not tell us where and how often inter-group contacts should occur—information critical for understanding the transmission of information, behavioral traits and infectious diseases in primate populations. Here, we describe an extension of the socio-ecological model that includes both heterogeneous food resource distributions and group-level memory of prior feeding spots and inter-group encounters. We use a novel maximum-likelihood framework to fit this model to fruit tree distribution and extensive movement data collected for five capuchin groups from Barro Colorado Island, Panama. We then apply the estimated model to a completely different system, folivorous Verreaux’s sifaka from Madagascar, modifying only the food resource distribution to match that observed in Kirindy Mitea National Park. The model predicts that sifaka should display lower inter-group aggression rates, larger home-range overlap and lower feeding site re-visitation rates than capuchins. All of these predictions are consistent with direct behavioral observations collected for two years in five neighboring sifaka groups, suggesting that food resource variability and spatial memory jointly and profoundly shape group-level contact patterns.
This study was funded by NSF Grant DEB-0749097 to L.A. Meyers.