Fig foraging by dichromatic and trichromatic cebus capucinus in a tropical dry forest

Amanda D. Melin, Linda M. Fedigan, Chihiro Hiramatsu, Tomohide Hiwatashi, Nigel Parr, Shoji Kawamura

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Figs are important resources for frugivores, and Ficus is an ideal taxon for evaluating patterns of primate foraging related to food color. Ficus spp. can be classified as conspicuous (color change from greenish to reddish during ripening) or cryptic (green throughout ripening). To investigate the effect on foraging of color vision phenotype variation for these 2 types of figs, we conducted a 20-mo study on 4 groups of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) in the Santa Rosa Sector of the ACG, Costa Rica between May 2004 and September 2008. We genotyped all individuals and collected behavioral data on feeding rates, acceptance indices, and foraging sequences. We found a significant effect of fig type; feeding rates and acceptance indices were higher for conspicuous figs than for cryptic figs, and subjects sniffed cryptic figs more often than conspicuous figs. We also found that dichromats sniffed more figs and had longer foraging sequences than trichromats, especially for cryptic figs. Among 6 subtypes of dichromats and trichromats, monkeys possessing the trichromat phenotype with the most spectrally separated L-M opsin alleles showed the highest acceptance index for conspicuous figs, though there were no differences in feeding rates among phenotypes. We conclude: 1) conspicuous figs are visually salient not only for trichromats but also for dichromats, 2) olfaction is important for evaluating edibility of cryptic figs, and 3) the reliance on olfaction for selecting fruit is greater in dichromats. These results indicate divergent foraging strategies among color vision phenotypes for assessing food items.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-775
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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