Alternative seed-handling strategies in primates: seed-spitting by long-tailed macaques ( Macaca fascicularis )

Alternative seed-handling strategies in primates: seed-spitting by long-tailed macaques ( Macaca... The seeds in fruits consumed by primates may be chewed and digested, swallowed and defecated intact, or separated from the flesh and spat out. We show by a combination of close field observations and experiments with caged animals, that long-tailed macaques ( Macaca fascicularis ) have a remarkably low threshold of 3–4 mm for swallowing seeds and also that wild macaques rarely break them. The seeds of 69% of the ripe fruit species eaten are spat out intact or cleaned outside the mouth and dropped. Seed-spitting significantly reduces the swallowed food bulk and may lessen the risk of releasing seed toxins during mastication. However, it requires that even small fruits are processed in the mouth one or a few at a time. We suggest that fruit storage in the cheek pouches of cercopithecine monkeys allows them to spit seeds individually without excessively slowing fruit intake while feeding on patchily distributed fruit. In contrast, Apes and New World monkeys apparently swallow and defecate most ripe seeds in their diet and colobine monkeys break and digest them, detoxifying seed defenses by bacterial fermentation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Oecologia Springer Journals

Alternative seed-handling strategies in primates: seed-spitting by long-tailed macaques ( Macaca fascicularis )

Oecologia, Volume 82 (2) – Feb 1, 1990

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1990 by Springer-Verlag
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology; Plant Sciences
ISSN
0029-8549
eISSN
1432-1939
DOI
10.1007/BF00323531
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The seeds in fruits consumed by primates may be chewed and digested, swallowed and defecated intact, or separated from the flesh and spat out. We show by a combination of close field observations and experiments with caged animals, that long-tailed macaques ( Macaca fascicularis ) have a remarkably low threshold of 3–4 mm for swallowing seeds and also that wild macaques rarely break them. The seeds of 69% of the ripe fruit species eaten are spat out intact or cleaned outside the mouth and dropped. Seed-spitting significantly reduces the swallowed food bulk and may lessen the risk of releasing seed toxins during mastication. However, it requires that even small fruits are processed in the mouth one or a few at a time. We suggest that fruit storage in the cheek pouches of cercopithecine monkeys allows them to spit seeds individually without excessively slowing fruit intake while feeding on patchily distributed fruit. In contrast, Apes and New World monkeys apparently swallow and defecate most ripe seeds in their diet and colobine monkeys break and digest them, detoxifying seed defenses by bacterial fermentation.

Journal

OecologiaSpringer Journals

Published: Feb 1, 1990

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