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Title: Some Inter-Population Variation in the Behavioural Ecology of Cercopithecus aethiops tantalus
Author: Kavanagh, M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3595 6852
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1977
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Short-term studies were made of the behaviour of tantalus monkeys in three habitats in order to describe any variation found and to investigate the functional relationship between that variation and the environment. The monkeys were studied in arid sahelian (thorn) savannah, broad-leaved guinea savannah and a mixed area of secondary forest and farmland. The three study sites are described in detail, and included in the descriptions are the results of brief surveys of the vegetation. The farmed forest was significantly vegetally denser than either of the savannah sites, providing more cover for the monkeys. The forest and the guinea-savannah were equally diverse in numbers of plant species but the sahel was poorer in this respect. The two savannah sites were more markedly seasonal in vegetal production than was the farmed forest. Feeding could not be studied quantitatively in the forest but in both savannah habitats the monkeys spent approximately one third of their total time and one third of their feeding time on the ground. Feeding techniques were typical for the species as described by other investigators and reflected a lack of dietary specialization. Meat and invertebrates were eaten as well as vegetable matter, and the proportions of different foodparts in the diet varied greatly both from month to month within each habitat and between habitats. Some social synchrony of feeding independent of the time of day at which the monkeys fed was observed at both savannah sites, but the diurnal cycles of feeding showed great daily variations. In the savannah areas, ranging patterns appeared to be determined by a combination of the distribution of food and water supplies and the desiccating effects of solar radiation. In the farmed forest, these constraints were eased and ranging patterns were more irregular. Population density, territoriality and typical group size (but not adult sex-ratio) varied greatly between habitats. The densest populations and largest groups were found in the sahel. Densities varied from 18 to 149 monkeys per km2, but although the highest density was associated with the largest groups the reverse (small groups with low density) did not occur. It is argued that population density may be limited by predation (by man) in the forest, by food in the guinea savannah and by intra-specific aggression in the sahel. Where territorial defence was observed, it was adaptive in relation to the hypothesised limiting factor on the population and was associated with relatively small social groups. The tantalus monkey is an historical newcomer to the farmed forest and the adaptations that it has made are discussed in detail. A summary of the main points of difference between the three study populations is given in an appendix.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available