Use of mineral licks by white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) and red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) in Eastern Ecuador

John G. Blake, Jaime Guerra, Diego Mosquera, Rene Torres, Bette A. Loiselle, David Romo

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

62 Citas (Scopus)


Geophagy occurs in all primate groups and is particularly common in species that consume greater quantities of plant material, i.e., leaves, fruit. The function of geophagy is not fully understood and likely varies over space and time, perhaps in connection with changes in diet. Central to a better understanding of geophagy in primate ecology is knowledge of the occurrence of such behavior among different species and seasons. We used camera traps triggered by heat and motion to document the use of mineral licks by primates over a 3-yr period at a lowland forest site in eastern Ecuador (Tiputini Biodiversity Station). Such mineral licks can be important sources of minerals, nutrients, and other compounds for a wide range of species in Amazonian forests. Although 10 species of primates are known from the study site, we obtained photographs of only 2 species, Ateles belzebuth (white-bellied spider monkey) and Alouatta seniculus (red howler) at 2 of 4 saladeros surveyed. From late December 2004 through early January 2008, we recorded 192 photographs with a total of 318 Ateles belzebuth representing ≥66 separate visits. Comparable numbers for Alouatta seniculus were 80, 121, and 37. We recorded both species visiting a mineral lick at the same time on ≥7 occasions. Use of mineral licks varied across months; we recorded more visits from November through February, the drier period at Tiputini. Visits also varied by hour, with no visits before 0830 or after 1630; Ateles belzebuth showed a stronger mid-day peak in visits. Average visit length (calculated as the time between the first and last photographs of a given visit) was similar between the 2 species but median visit length was more than twice as long for Ateles belzebuth (15 min) as for Alouatta seniculus (6 min). Results indicate that mineral licks are important in the ecology of these species, but further studies are needed to determine the precise benefit(s) obtained and how benefits may vary with diet and other factors.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)471-483
Número de páginas13
PublicaciónInternational Journal of Primatology
EstadoPublicada - jun. 2010


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