Microhabitat Preference and Vertical Use of Space by Patas Monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) in Relation to Predation Risk and Habitat StructureEnstam K.L. · Isbell L.A.
Department of Anthropology, University of California at Davis, Davis, Calif., USA
Habitat structure can be important in determining habitat preference of animals because it is often closely linked to factors that affect survival and reproduction, such as food availability and predation risk. Here we examine the ways in which microhabitat structure and predation risk affect the habitat preference of wild patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas). Patas monkeys in Kenya are typically restricted to Acacia drepanolobium habitat, but within our study group’s home range, there are two distinct microhabitats, one with taller trees (‘tall microhabitat’) and one with apparently perennially shorter trees (‘short microhabitat’). Examination of ranging behavior indicates that the patas monkeys preferred the tall microhabitat. In the tall microhabitat, focal animals climbed into trees that were significantly taller than average, indicating that they preferred tall trees. Female patas monkeys spent more time scanning from tall trees than from short trees and detected predators only from taller than average trees, based on alarm call data. Their use of tall trees may have decreased their predation risk by increasing their ability to detect predators. We found no evidence of increased food availability or reduced predator presence in the tall microhabitat that could contribute to the monkeys’ preference for the tall microhabitat.
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