The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Exploring the differences in how long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) exploit human-modified environments: Do age and sex matter?

ANNE C. KWIATT1, THAD Q. BARTLETT1 and AGUSTÍN FUENTES2.

1Anthropology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

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Long-tailed macaques are found throughout Southeast Asia and have long been identified as an extremely flexible species associated with multiple habitat types, including human-modified urban environments. As resource overlap with humans increasingly puts humans and nonhuman primates in close contact, effective management strategies will require a more detailed understanding of how primates exploit urban ecosystems. We studied the feeding behavior of a single group of macaques in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore to better understand age and sex-class differences in the use of human-modified habitats and human-derived foods. The macaques in this study regularly raid dumpsters, residential homes, gardens, and cars. We predicted that adult males would exploit modified landscapes more often than other age-sex classes, feeding more heavily on human-derived foods. We collected over 80 hours of scan and focal data from July-August 2011 recording activity, habitat type, height above ground and food type. The study animals spent 71.1% of their time in modified habitats, but contrary to expectations, there was no difference in foraging height or in the use of modified environments (females=68.5%; males=74.3%; juveniles=70.7%); however, there was a significant difference in diet among age-sex classes [χ2(4, N=63)=11.23, p=0.024]. One-way comparisons revealed that males consumed marginally more modified/processed foods than females [χ2(1, N=36)=2.88, p=0.0896] and that juveniles consumed significantly more leaves and other plant material than either males [χ2(1, N=47)=8.33, p=0. 004] or females [χ2(1, N=43)=8.33, p=0. 004). These results suggest that adult males may present the greater challenge to urban macaque management strategies than other age-sex classes.

Research supported by The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Anthropology, Doctoral Research Grant.

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