Food preferences and nutrient composition in captive Southern brown howler monkeys, Alouatta guariba clamitans

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
P. Silveira, W. Valler Í, Z. M. B. Hirano, A. N. Dada, M. Laska, L. T. H. Salazar
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Studies of food preferences in captive primates have so far mainly been restricted to frugivorous species. It was therefore the aim of the present study to assess the occurrence of spontaneous food preferences in a mainly folivorous primate, the captive Southern brown howler monkey, and to analyze whether these preferences correlate with nutrient composition. Using a two-alternative choice test, we presented ten male and five female adult Alouatta guariba clamitans with all possible binary combinations of ten types of food that are part of their diet in captivity and recorded their choice behavior. We found the howler monkeys to display the following rank order of preference: banana > mango > watermelon > papaya > beetroot > apple > pear > orange > cucumber > tomato. This preference ranking significantly and positively correlated with the total carbohydrate content and with the sucrose content of the food items. We also found significant positive correlations between the food preference ranking and the content of the minerals copper and magnesium. Male and female howler monkeys did not differ significantly in their food preference rankings. These results suggest this howler monkeys under human care are not opportunistic, but selective feeders with regard to maximizing their net gain of energy as only the content of carbohydrates, but not the contents of total energy, proteins, or lipids significantly correlated with the displayed food preferences. Thus, the food preferences of this primate are similar to those reported in several species of frugivorous primates tested with cultivated fruits and vegetables.


Back to Resources