Dietary diversity of an ecological and macronutritional generalist primate in a harsh high-latitude habitat, the Taihangshan macaque (Macaca mulatta tcheliensis)

Zhenwei Cui, Qi Shao, Cyril C. Grueter, Zhenlong Wang, Jiqi Lu, David Raubenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent advances in niche theory have stressed the importance of understanding dietary generalism at multiple levels, including the range of habitat and foods exploited by a species, foods exploited within populations, and patterns of nutrient intake. Here we apply this framework to examine the dietary strategy of the Macaca mulatta, a primate species that is second only to humans in their breadth of geographical distribution, and occupy diverse ecological habitats from cold temperate to tropical latitudes. A recent study showed that the Taihangshan subspecies (M. mulatta tcheliensis) in China, which is found at the northern latitudinal limit of the species range, respond to ecologically constrained interannual variation in the macronutrient ratios of the spring diet in a way that theory predicts should be associated with ecological generalism. Here we further extend this study, examining the relationships between seasonal variation in food availability and the patterns of food selection across a full year. We found that, despite the ecological and macronutritional generalism of the species, Taihangshan macaques subsist on a relatively small range of foods (57 different foods, spread across 8 categories comprising seeds, fruits, buds, flowers, leaves, herbs, young bark, and twigs), but face considerable seasonal variation in the combinations available. In spring and summer, when seeds were scarce, leaves accounted for 60.3 ± 13.8% of their diet (dry matter [DM] %), and herbs contributed 31.7 ± 22.2%. However, in autumn and winter, when seeds were abundant, they contributed 68.5 ± 22.7% of the diet while herbs accounted for 18.9 ± 12.9% on a DM. Although young bark and twigs were available in all seasons, the macaques only fed on them in winter. We present comparative data from the literature on the diets of M. mulatta and other Macaca species, to interpret this pattern of resource use within the framework of multilevel niche theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22965
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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