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Habitat Use by White-Thighed Colobus in the Kikélé Sacred Forest: Activity Budget, Feeding Ecology and Selection of Sleeping Trees

Authors:
  • Swiss Center for Scientific Research in Côte d'Ivoire
  • Université Nationale d'Agriculture, Bénin

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Understanding habitat preference and use is an important aspect of primate ecology, and is essential for setting conservation strategies. This study examined the activity budget, feeding ecology and selection of sleeping trees of a population of white-thighed colobus (Colobus vellerosus). A group of 18 was followed during 72 days over a full annual cycle in the Kikélé Sacred Forest of the Bassila administrative region in central Benin (West Africa). Activity budget and diet were determined using scan sampling. The structure of the habitat and the physical characteristics of sleeping trees were determined using plot surveys. Resting, feeding, moving, social interactions and other activities accounted for 56.6%, 26.3%, 13.0%, 3.3%, and 0.7% of the activity budget, respectively. The group spent more time feeding and less time moving in the dry season compared to the rainy season. The diet was composed of 35 plant species belonging to 16 families, with items including leaves, fruits, seeds, buds, bark, flowers, gum, and inflorescences. Only three tree species were used as sleeping trees: Celtis integrifolia, Cola cordifolia, and Holoptelea grandis. Our findings suggest that the monkeys prefer tall (22.53 ± SD 3.76 m) and large-trunked (112.07 ± SD 14.23 cm) sleeping trees. The results of this study can be used for sound management of the white-thighed colobus in the study area and elsewhere.
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... grooming rates of 14% (Li and Rogers 2004a). Other studies have similarly found that despite not being a common behaviour, grooming does account for the majority of social interactions for colobines (Kirkpatrick 2007;Rawson 2009;Matsuda et al. 2012a; Djègo- Djossou et al. 2015). Grooming of others is an important part of many catarrhines primates' social lives, and serves primarily a social purpose (Dunbar 1991), although it may also serve a hygienic function (Borries 1992). ...
... Female, and older, Cat Ba langurs spend significantly more time grooming than males, and younger langurs (respectively) ( Figures 5.3, 5.4, and 5.11). Since grooming is the primary social currency for colobines and Cat Ba langurs (Kirkpatrick 2007;Rawson 2009;Matsuda et al. 2012a;Djègo-Djossou et al. 2015; Section 5.3), rates of grooming between individuals gives a measure of their relationship and can serve as a proxy for how It was clear in my observations that female Cat Ba langurs with newborns were highly attractive social stimulants, and are frequently the targets of grooming interactions. This is partially demonstrated by the large number of others in proximity to newborns (Section, 6.3.2.1, Chapter 6), who are always carried by someone else. ...
... ;;Matsuda et al. 2008a;Li et al. 2010; Porter and Garber 2013; Djègo-Djossou et al. 2015), limestone langurs sleep in caves or on ledges rather than trees(Tan 1985;Huang et al. 1992;Rogers 2002;Huang et al. 2003;Grueter and Ding 2006;Zhou et al. 2007b;Zhou et al. 2009b;Li et al. 2011;Wang et al. 2011). This may be due to a lack of large, suitable trees (due to deforestation) (Huang et al. 2003), which are preferred by colobines assleeping sites (Cui et al. 2006; Djègo-Djossou et al. 2015) but are limited by human- induced fragmentation (Arroyo-Rodríguez and Mandujano 2006). ...
Thesis
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Cat Ba langurs (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), endemic to Cat Ba Island (Vietnam), are a member of the limestone langur group (francoisi species-group) found in Laos, Vietnam, and China. With less than 75 individuals in the world, these Cat Ba langurs are Critically Endangered. This dissertation represents the first long-term behavioural study of the species (549 contact hours across 11 months), and provides socioecological information for two groups (n=17-20) living on the Cua Dong fjord, which can be used in conservation management. Like most other colobines, the majority of the Cat Ba langur diet is leaves (84% of their dietary budget). This may explain their activity budget, which is primarily inactivity (55% of their activity budget), followed by foraging (19%) and social behaviour and locomotion (12% each). Activity and dietary budgets vary seasonally, with animals spending more time in social behaviours in the wet season, when they eat more fruit, and more time in foraging in the dry season, when leaves are ingested more, suggesting they are energy maximisers. In addition, age differences were found, with adults spending the most time in social behaviours and resting. Social behaviour primarily includes grooming and playing with others - play is more common in younger animals, while older animals tend to groom more. Overall, they spend 58% of their days not in proximity to any other langurs. Adult males spend the most time alone, and seem to avoid young langurs. Disputes tend to be between adult females, and two females only tend to come together if there is a young langur acting as a ‘social glue’. Home ranges varied between groups with the larger group’s range being 50ha compared to just 22ha for the smaller group. In both areas, rocks and sparsely covered areas are used most often, which is due to the shrubby, discontinuous vegetation. Most of the langurs’ observable time is spent on exposed slopes (47%), followed by steep cliffs (38%), summits (11%), valleys (3%), and the ground (1%); this varied seasonally, likely to balance foraging needs with thermoregulation. The langurs used 22 sleeping sites, including ledges (61%) and caves (17%). When newborn, Cat Ba langurs are bright orange. They start to lose this natal coat as an infant, and become much darker during the young juvenile stage. As individuals age, they also become more independent and start to forage and locomote more on their own. These reported behaviours can be used to create a baseline for activity budgets, home range size, and habitat use, and development and maturation that can be used for comparative purposes in future studies. Results find that animals are behaviourally similar to other related species and their biggest threat is likely their small, fragmented population structure. To combat this, I support habitat protection, patrols, and enforcement; education and training; habitat corridors; and limiting the human population, as these support an entire ecosystem while teaching locals the importance of biodiversity, reducing resource competition, and fragmentation from infrastructure, and providing a means for the langurs themselves to disperse.
... Accordingly, habitat requirements are a major factor in determining species survival and reproductive success (Warner, 2002). A clear understanding of habitat preference is crucial to advance our knowledge of primate ecology and represents valuable information when designing conservation strategies for rare and threatened species (Djègo-Djossou et al., 2015). ...
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