Chemical Composition of Baboon Plant Foods: Implications for the Interpretation of Intra- and Interspecific Differences in DietBarton R.A. · Whiten A. · Byrne R.W. · English M.
Scottish Primate Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, UK; Institute of Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya
Information on the chemical composition of baboon foods from the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya, is presented. Despite some differences in methods, results of analyses performed on the same foods at different sites were found to be extremely consistent, encouraging the view that meaningful intra- and interspecific comparisons of diet selection are feasible. Contrary to assumptions in the literature, no relationship between the abundance of food types and their chemical composition was found, nor was the foliage eaten by the baboons found to be a low-quality or high-fibre item in comparison with fruits and storage organs. Emphasis is placed on the need for caution in the use of simplistic dietary taxonomies which imply phyto-chemical and ecological homogeneity within broad food categories. Comparisons between three species revealed marked differences in the chemical composition of their diets; in particular, baboon diets were found to be higher in protein and lower in fibre than those of either lowland gorillas or Malaysian leaf monkeys, and differences in condensed tannin levels were also found. The relationship between these differences and the socio-ecology of the three species is discussed.
© 1993 S. Karger AG, Basel
Dr. R.A. Barton, Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, 43 Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HN (UK)
Received: April 25, 1991
Accepted: October 4, 1993
Published online: September 16, 2008
Number of Print Pages : 20
Folia Primatologica (International Journal of PrimatologyInternationale Zeitschrift für PrimatologieJournal international de Primatologie)
Vol. 61, No. 1, Year 1993 (Cover Date: 1993)
Journal Editor: Crompton R.H. (Liverpool)
ISSN: 0015–5713 (Print), eISSN: 1421–9980 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/FPR