The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

How Do Non-Primate Competitors Affect the Potential Distribution of Frugivorous Primates?


1Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 3Department of BioSciences, Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, 4Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

April 18, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Global analyses of primate communities have found that modern climate and evolutionary history shape community structure. Interspecific competition among primates and with non-primate mammals may be an additional important factor to consider, though we have little knowledge of this potential effect. Competition with non-primate mammals may be particularly important in shaping frugivorous primate distributions due to the spatially and temporally patchy nature of fruiting resources. Our study comprehensively tests how non-primate competitors influence the predicted distributions of frugivorous primates by using a species distribution modeling approach in mainland Africa and Madagascar. We hypothesize that frugivorous non-primate mammals and primates will limit each other’s distributions via competitive exclusion. We test this hypothesis by comparing abiotic and biotic species distribution models for 29 sub-Saharan African and 19 Malagasy primate species in MaxEnt. Biotic models incorporate potential competitor ranges as well as the environmental and climatic variables used in the abiotic models. We predict that the biotic models will produce more limited distributions compared to abiotic models by incorporating competitive exclusionary forces. We find that non-mammal competitors are more important predictors and limiting factors of mainland African primate distributions than of Malagasy lemur distributions. This suggests that non-primate competitors are not as important in shaping lemur distributions compared to primates in other broad geographic regions. The results of this study reflect the complexities of how interspecific interactions shape species distributions, as well as the influence of historical biogeography on community structure.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF SBE Awards 1551799 and 1551810).  

Slides/Poster (pdf)