International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 379–403 | Cite as

Diet and Feeding Ecology of Ateles chamek in a Bolivian Semihumid Forest: The Importance of Ficus as a Staple Food Resource

  • Annika M. Felton
  • Adam Felton
  • Jeff T. Wood
  • David B. Lindenmayer


We describe temporal patterns of food consumption by Peruvian spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) in a semihumid forest in lowland Bolivia. We assessed dietary composition in relation to temporal variation in abundance, duration, and synchrony of different food items in their home range. We collected data from September 2003 to September 2004, in the forestry concession La Chonta, Department of Santa Cruz. Throughout the period of detailed feeding data collection (February-September 2004), Ateles chamek used Ficus as a staple food resource. Figs constituted almost 50% of their diet in terms of total time spent feeding, and subjects consumed them to a great extent even during times of high overall food availability. This is contrary to the general expectation that for Neotropical frugivores, Ficus is a fallback food in times of fruit scarcity, rather than a staple food resource. Surprisingly, despite being considered ripe fruit specialists, Ateles chamek spent 18% of their feeding times eating unripe figs. Ateles chamek consumed unripe figs all through the year, including periods when ripe figs and other ripe fruit were abundant. We identify other important fallback foods for Ateles chamek in the forest, in particular the ripe fruit of Myrciaria sp.


Ateles chamek diet Ficus boliviana fig unripe fruit 



The generous financial assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, the Rufford Foundation, and the Primate Society of Great Britain supported the project. We thank the personnel of Instituto Boliviano de Investigación Forestal (IBIF), Agroindustría Forestal La Chonta Ltda, and el Proyecto de Manejo Forestal Sostenible (BOLFOR) for providing logistical support and expert advice, especially Marielos Peña-Claros, Todd Fredericksen, and Joaquin Justiniano. José and Genaro Chuviña provided integral assistance during all phases of the field work. We also thank Renna Short, Helga Peters, and all other volunteers and field workers. Advice from William Foley, Robert Wallace, and Colin Groves greatly contributed to the design of this project. We thank Colin Groves and 2 anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annika M. Felton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adam Felton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeff T. Wood
    • 1
  • David B. Lindenmayer
    • 1
  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Institituto Boliviano de Investigación Forestal (IBIF)Santa Cruz de la SierraBolivia

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