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Ecology of an endemic primate species (Macaca siberu) on Siberut Island, Indonesia

Christin Richter1*, Ahmad Taufiq2, Keith Hodges3, Julia Ostner1 and Oliver Schülke1

Author Affiliations

1 Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behaviour, Georg-August University Göttingen, Kellnerweg 6, Göttingen, 37077, Germany

2 Universitas Andalas, Department of Biology, Andalas University, Kampus Limau Manih, Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia

3 Reproductive Biology Unit, German Primate Center, Kellnerweg 4, Göttingen, 37077, Germany

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SpringerPlus 2013, 2:137  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-137

Published: 29 March 2013

Abstract

Logging and forest loss continues to be a major problem within Southeast Asia and as a result, many species are becoming threatened or extinct. The present study provides the first detailed and comprehensive ecological data on the Siberut macaque (Macaca siberu), a primate species living exclusively on the island of Siberut off the west coast of Sumatra. Our results show that M. siberu is ecologically similar to its closest relative M. nemestrina occurring on the mainland, both species being semi-terrestrial, mainly frugivorous (75-76%), exhibit a large daily travel distance for their group size and spend more time on traveling than any other macaque species. The habitat of Siberut macaques was floristically very diverse (Simpson’s index D=0.97), although somewhat impoverished in tree species richness, and had a lower tree basal area and a lower rattan density compared to other forests in Malesia (both rattan and palm tree fruit being an important food resource for Macaca siberu due to their long fruiting periods). These factors may lead to a lower diversity and abundance of fruit resources, and coupled with a high degree of frugivory of Siberut macaques, may explain the large amount of traveling observed in this species. The large home range requirements and strong dependence on fruit are important factors that need to be considered when developing conservation measures for this IUCN-listed (Category Vulnerable) species.

Keywords:
Macaque ecology; Species comparison; Southeast Asian rainforest; Endemic species; Conservation