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


Geographic variation in hair δ13C and δ15N values of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) reflect anthropogenic impact

JAMES E. LOUDON1, TRUDY R. TURNER2,3, J P. GROBLER3, KIMBERLY L. MOYER1, RENEE C. WALKER1 and MATT SPONHEIMER1.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 3Department of Genetics, University of the Free State, South Africa

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For many nonhuman primates, living amongst humans is a reality. Human-nonhuman primate sympatry frequently occurs among those nonhuman primates that are dietary generalists and largely terrestrial. In Africa, such relationships are often found among humans and cercopithecoids. Recently, the field of ethnoprimatology emerged to examine human-nonhuman primate interplays. Ethnoprimatologists use cultural anthropological and primatological methodologies in order to gain an understanding of these interconnections. As a result, many ethnoprimatological studies have explained human-nonhuman primate associations, largely in qualitative terms. By using stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis we use quantitative data to understand the degree to which humans impact vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops) dietary patterns and behavioral ecology. Hair was collected from 134 anesthetized animals hailing from 10 South African populations to study aspects of vervet monkey genomics, immunology, and phylogeography. Among these 10 locations, humans have modified vervet monkey habitats to varying degrees and the nature of human-vervet monkey interactions range greatly. The vervet monkey population at Woodhill (Pretoria) was regularly provisioned by the local people. In contrast, the Dronfield population was not observed eating human foods. The majority of vervet monkey populations we sampled consumed human foods when available. Those populations at Soetdoring, Baviaanskloof /Geelhoutbos, Parys, and the Gariep Dam used human foods to supplement their diets. This study demonstrates the utility of stable isotope analysis for understanding human-nonhuman primate interconnections. This technique may be prove useful for primatologists interested in these associations, but lack the time or resources to employ the traditional long-term ethnoprimatological approach.

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