The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Use of high-throughput sequencing to investigate white-faced capuchin prey choice


1Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Which food resources primates choose to exploit is dependent on a number of changing social and ecological factors, including nutrient balancing, food availability and distribution, patch size and quality, and the presence of conspecifics. In faunivorous primates, such as capuchin monkeys, previous field studies have been limited by an inability to accurately determine what taxa of animal prey are being consumed, decreasing the researchers’ abilities to assess the nutrient content of all components of the diet, the influence of variation in animal prey availability, age- and sex-based differences in prey choice, and how prey choice relates to the microhabitats in which primates forage. In this study, we use high-throughput sequencing of invertebrate mtDNA from the feces of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) to determine patterns of animal prey consumption over a yearlong study. From January 2013 through January 2014, 235 fecal samples were collected from adult female, adult male, and juvenile white-faced capuchins at La Suerte Biological Field Station in northeastern Costa Rica. DNA was extracted from fecal samples. A ~300bp fragment of the COI mtDNA was amplified using universal primers for invertebrates. Samples were individually barcoded and sequenced on the Illumina MiSeq platform. Sequences were clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and OTUs were compared to known COI sequences in GenBank and the Barcode of Life Database. Preliminary analyses of 54 fecal samples have identified 11 Orders, 23 Families, 22 Genera and 18 species of arthropods, greatly increasing our knowledge of the diversity of invertebrates in white-faced capuchin diets.

This study was funded by the NSF GRFP, the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.