Stable isotope ratios indicate diet and habitat use in New World monkeys.
This paper demonstrates the use of stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen in animal tissue for indicating aspects of species behavioral strategy. We analyzed hair from individuals representing four species of New World monkeys (Alouatta palliata, the mantled howler; Ateles geoffroyi, the spider monkey; Cebus capucinus, the capuchin; and Brachyteles arachnoides, the woolly-spider monkey or muriqui) for delta 13C and delta 15N using previously developed methods. There are no significant differences in either carbon or nitrogen ratios between sexes, sampling year, or year of analysis. Seasonal differences in delta 13C reached a low level of significance but do not affect general patterns. Variation within species was similar to that recorded previously within single individuals. The omega 13C data show a bimodal distribution with significant difference between the means. The two monkey populations living in an evergreen forest were similar to each other and different from the other two monkey populations that inhabited dry, deciduous forests. This bimodal distribution is independent of any particular species' diet and reflects the level of leaf cover in the two types of forest. The delta 15N data display three significantly different modes. The omnivorous capuchins were most positive reflecting a trophic level offset. The spider monkeys and the muriquis were similar to one another and significantly more positive than the howlers. This distribution among totally herbivorous species correlates with the ingestion of legumes by the howler monkey population. In combination, these data indicate that museum-curated primate material can be analyzed to yield information on forest cover and diet in populations and species lacking behavioral data.
Schoeninger, MJ; Iwaniec, UT; Glander, KE
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