Plant foods consumed by Pan : Exploring the variation of nutritional ecology across Africa

Department of Primatology, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Impact Factor: 2.38). 01/2009; 141(3):476-85. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21168
Source: PubMed


It has been shown that differences in resource density and nutrient supply affect variation in ranging patterns, habitat use, and sociality. Among nonhuman primates, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (P. paniscus) have often been used as models for the link between social system and habitat ecology. Field reports suggest that resource density is higher in habitats occupied by bonobos (compared to chimpanzee habitats), and in the West (compared to the East) of the range of chimpanzees. In this study we compared diet quality at the level of species and populations using information from nutritional analyses of fruit and leaves consumed by chimpanzees (three) and bonobos (one population). Quality of plant foods was assessed on the basis of a) the concentration of macronutrients, fiber, and anti-feedants, and b) associations of different nutrient components. Overall plant samples collected at each site differed in terms of macronutrient content. However, nutritious quality and gross energy content of food samples were similar suggesting that dietary quality reflects selectivity rather than habitat ecology. The quality of plant foods consumed by bonobos was within the range of chimpanzees and the quality of plant foods consumed by western chimpanzees was not higher than that of eastern chimpanzees. While the results showed significant variation across forests inhabited by Pan, they did not match with geographical patterns between and within Pan species as proposed in previous studies. This suggests that the nutritional quality of the habitat is not always a reliable predictor of the quality of the diet.

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