CZAAWE Resource Article

Seasonal variation in the length of the daily activity period in buffy-headed marmosets (Callithrix flaviceps): An important consideration for the analysis of foraging strategies in observational field studies of primates
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
American Journal of Primatology
Activity budgets are widely used in primate behavioral studies for the analysis of ecological strategies. In some cases, there is considerable seasonal variation in the length of the daily activity period. Here, activity budgets from two field studies of Callithrix flaviceps were compiled first by the traditional approach (proportion of scan sample records) and then by considering the proportion of time dedicated to each activity over the 24-hr cycle (adjusted budget). Both groups were almost invariably active for at least 1–2 hr less than the daylight period, with significantly shorter activity periods during the austral winter, when the daylight period was up to 2:35 hr shorter than in the summer. The adjustment of activity budgets provided a completely different perspective on foraging strategies. Whereas the basic budgets indicated a significant increase in foraging and moving during the resource-poor dry season (winter) months, the time-adjusted data revealed that the primary strategy was a time-minimizing one, with the animals simply spending more time at rest during the longer activity periods of summer days. While both groups followed the same pattern of relatively short activity periods, there were considerable differences between sites in the mean duration of the period in a given month, and in behavior patterns, although the analysis of the determining factors was beyond the scope of the present study. Overall, the results of the study indicate that the manipulation of the duration of the daily activity period may be an integral component of primate behavioral strategies, and that this parameter should be taken into account systematically when evaluating activity patterns, especially at sites at relatively high latitudes where day length may vary considerably over the course of the year. Am. J. Primatol. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.