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1.  Coming down from the trees: Is terrestrial activity in Bornean orangutans natural or disturbance driven? 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4024.
The orangutan is the world's largest arboreal mammal, and images of the red ape moving through the tropical forest canopy symbolise its typical arboreal behaviour. Records of terrestrial behaviour are scarce and often associated with habitat disturbance. We conducted a large-scale species-level analysis of ground-based camera-trapping data to evaluate the extent to which Bornean orangutans Pongo pygmaeus come down from the trees to travel terrestrially, and whether they are indeed forced to the ground primarily by anthropogenic forest disturbances. Although the degree of forest disturbance and canopy gap size influenced terrestriality, orangutans were recorded on the ground as frequently in heavily degraded habitats as in primary forests. Furthermore, all age-sex classes were recorded on the ground (flanged males more often). This suggests that terrestrial locomotion is part of the Bornean orangutan's natural behavioural repertoire to a much greater extent than previously thought, and is only modified by habitat disturbance. The capacity of orangutans to come down from the trees may increase their ability to cope with at least smaller-scale forest fragmentation, and to cross moderately open spaces in mosaic landscapes, although the extent of this versatility remains to be investigated.
doi:10.1038/srep04024
PMCID: PMC3923384  PMID: 24526001
2.  Leaf Selection by Two Bornean Colobine Monkeys in Relation to Plant Chemistry and Abundance 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1873.
Focusing on the chemical basis of dietary selection while investigating the nutritional ecology of animals helps understand their feeding biology. It is also important to consider food abundance/biomass while studying the mechanism of animal food selection. We studied leaf selection in two Bornean folivorous primates in relation to plant chemistry and abundance: proboscis monkeys inhabiting a secondary riverine forest and red leaf monkeys inhabiting a primary forest. Both species tended to prefer leaves containing higher protein levels, although more abundant plant species were chosen within the preferred species, probably to maximise energy gain per unit time. However, the two species showed clear differences in their detailed feeding strategy. Red leaf monkeys strictly chose to consume young leaves to adapt to the poor nutritional environment of the primary forest, whereas proboscis monkeys were not highly selective because of the better quality of its common food in the riverine forest.
doi:10.1038/srep01873
PMCID: PMC3660720  PMID: 23695180
3.  Regurgitation and remastication in the foregut-fermenting proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):786-789.
Although foregut fermentation is often equated with rumination in the literature, functional ruminants (ruminants, camelids) differ fundamentally from non-ruminant foregut fermenters (e.g. macropods, hippos, peccaries). They combine foregut fermentation with a sorting mechanism that allows them to remasticate large particles and clear their foregut quickly of digested particles; thus, they do not only achieve high degrees of particle size reduction but also comparatively high food intakes. Regurgitation and remastication of stomach contents have been described sporadically in several non-ruminant, non-primate herbivores. However, this so-called ‘merycism’ apparently does not occur as consistently as in ruminants. Here, to our knowledge we report, for the first time, regurgitation and remastication in 23 free-ranging individuals of a primate species, the foregut-fermenting proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus). In one male that was observed continuously during 169 days, the behaviour was observed on 11 different days occurring mostly in the morning, and was associated with significantly higher proportions of daily feeding time than on days when it was not observed. This observation is consistent with the concept that intensified mastication allows higher food intake without compromising digestive efficiency, and represents an expansion of the known physiological primate repertoire that converges with a strategy usually associated with ruminants only.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0197
PMCID: PMC3169055  PMID: 21450728
rumination; merycism; foregut fermentation; herbivory; food intake

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