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Primate Behavior and Ecology

Course Code
Christopher Watts

of 3
Primate Behavior and Ecology
Primate Characteristics
Mammals, not pets; differ from most mammals by having grasping hands and feet, collarbone (Clavicle),
radius and ulna, forward facing eyes and stereoscopic vision (depth perception)
Dangerous, belong in the wild; diseasesdisastrous; visually oriented
Activity patterns: nocturnal (active at night), diurnal (active during day), crespuscular (active at dusk and
dawn), cathemeral (active any time of day or night)
Diets: frugivore (fruit), folivore (leaves), insectivore (diet of insects), graminivore (diet of small seeds and
grasses), faunivore (invertebrates and vertebrates), gummivore (tree exudates), graminivore (small seeds
and grasses), seed predator/schelerocarpivory (hard seeds), omnivore (varied diet)
Primate Taxonomy
Order -> suborder -> infraorder
Strepsirhine characteristics: dental tooth comb, moist rhinarium, unfused manibular and frontal sympases,
taetum hicidum, postorbital bar
oTwo superfamilies:
Lemuroidea: Madagascar and Comoro islands, Arboreal quadrupeds and leapers, some
partially terrestrial, many small-bodies species are nocturnal, females dominance, varied
Lorisoidea: found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, Lorises and
galagos, Arboreal quadrupeds, nocturnal, varied diet
Legend: lemurs sad about lorises taking their tail; contrasting cries/calls
Lemurs endemic to Madagascar
Haplorhine characteristics: dry nose, retinal forvea, postorbital closure, fused mandibular and frontal
symphases (cf Tarsiers)
oThree infraorders
Tarsiiformes: one genus (Tarshius), found in SE Asia, small body size, relatively large
eyes, with fused lower leg bones, entirely faunivorous
Platyrrhines: (Neotropical mokeys), medium size, central and south America, cebidae,
atelidae and callitrichidae, prehensile tail in few species, most entirely arboreal (look like
old tropical European colonists)
Catarrhines: (Old World monkeys and apes), Africa, Asia and SE Asia, big,
cercopithecidae, hylobatidae and hominidae, varied diets, social organizations and
adaptations (mates for lifetime but sometimes “cheat….)
Human being: homo sapiens
oHabitual, upright, bipedal posture and locomotion
oUse of forelimb almost entirely for manipulation, carrying and throwing, rarely used for
oEnormous expansion of brain volume
oReduction of teeth, jaws and chewing muscles
Body size
oScaling: are (LxW) and volume (LxWxD) change at different rates
oAnimal doubles in size will be 8x heavier
oSmall animals have greater heat (energy) loss than larger animals
Primate habitats:
o tropical rainforests, dry forests, deserts and savannas
oprimary vs secondary forests, ecological niche,
oforest microhabitats, emergent layer, canopy, understory
oin jungle, fear mosquitoes rather than snakes and other humans, own common sense
Primate Evolutionary Ecology
oBottom-up processes (plant -> animals), top-down processes (predators->prey)
oSeed dispersal and pollination, predation pressures on primates
oPlant defensive adaptation, physical, chemical
Primate Ranging Patterns
oDaily path length, day range, home range, core area, territory
Primate Sociality
oComplex social lives, including deception, female mate choice, homosexuality, kin recognition,
warfare, friendship
Primate Social Grooming
oMore about establishing social bonds than hygiene, also used to reconcile conflict
Primate Dominance Hierarchies
oSocial order sustained by aggression affiliation, or other behavior patterns
Primate Social Organization
oResidence group composition
oMating systems: who mates with whom
oForaging coherence: who eats with whom
oPhilopatry type: female (males leave at sexual maturity), male (females leave)
oAdvantage: improved predator protection, access to food, resource defence, increased access to
potential mates
oDisadvantage: increased predator encounters, more mouths to feed, increased travel/foraging
costs, disease transmission
Disease Transmission: Ebola in Gorillas in Africa
oEach human outbreak accompanied by reports of gorilla and chimpanzee carcasses in
neighbouring forests
Primate Conservation
oHabitat disturbance, logging, agriculture, forest fragmentation, hunting pressures, subsistence vs
economic (local villages for food…)
Deforestation in Amazon
Primate Conversation: Biology and Anthropology
oDont fall for the local people are problem
oMust respect culture, find practical solutions involving locals