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Mangabey (Cerocebus Albigena) Movement Patterns in Relation to Food Availability and Fecal Contamination

Freeland, W. J.
Ecology 1980 v.61 no.6 pp. 1297-1303
Cercocebus, Protozoa, feces, figs, food availability, forests, home range, leaves, pollution, rain, vegetation structure, Uganda
Due to the structure of the vegetation in Kibale Forest, Uganda, mangabeys (Cercocebus albigena) cannot avoid, and do not try to avoid, defecating on vegetation they may subsequently use in normal feeding and movement activities. Mangabeys defecate throughout the day. Sleeping areas are major sites of fecal contamination. Wet weather removes fecal contamination from leaves within 24 h. Dry weather results in live intestinal protozoa persisting in feces for more than 24 h. Mangabeys were found to travel further, use more area and exhibit less day—to—day overlap in use of area during dry weather than on days of rain. The data suggest that differences in movement and activity on days of rain and no rain are not due to observational error, or to mangabeys' movement being inhibited by rain. I suggest that the difference is due to rain removing fecal contamination from the environment. This allows concentrated use of areas during periods of rain. During dry weather, mangabeys move long distances and use more area, apparently to avoid environmental contamination, and thus frequently encounter rare food items such as fig tress in fruit. Food density could not be shown to influence mangabey use of areas within the home range.