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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Professor Russell Hill

Wimberger, K., Nowak, K. & Hill, R.A. (2017). Reliance on exotic plants by two groups of threatened samango monkeys, Cercopithecus albogularis labiatus, at their southern range limit. International Journal of Primatology 38(2): 151-171.

Author(s) from Durham


Understanding how threatened species adapt their behavior to landscapes shaped by humans is increasingly important to ensuring they persist in a changing world. Matrix habitats can be shared spaces where human and nonhuman primates coexist. We set out to determine how an endemic, threatened forest specialist, the frugivorous, arboreal samango monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis labiatus), has responded to a matrix habitat made up of residential gardens and commercial plantations in Eastern Cape province, South Africa. We followed two groups from dawn to dusk for a mean of 3 days/mo for 12 mo (February 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012) using scan sampling to collect data on their diet, activity, and ranging patterns. We used resource abundance transects to describe the groups’ home ranges and monitored tree phenology to calculate fruit and seed availability indices. Monkeys from both groups consumed large quantities of exotic plant species, accounting for >50% of their overall annual diet, with seeds of the invasive black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) the most commonly consumed exotic species followed by acorns of two oak species (Quercus robur and Q. palustris.). However, monkeys responded to the availability of indigenous rather than exotic fruits and seeds and increased their consumption of exotics when indigenous fruits were less available. Although monkeys spent less time moving when feeding on exotic species compared to indigenous species, eating exotics did not free up monkeys’ time to rest or socialize, as additional time was required to process exotic foods. To offset the possible negative consequences of the monkeys’ reliance on exotic seeds, including escalating conflict between monkeys and people in gardens, we suggest gradual removal of exotic plant species in the habitat and replacement with indigenous species as one mitigation strategy.