Volume 45 Issue 1
Jan.  2024
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Lan Zhao, Sheng-Nan Ji, Xiao-Bing Du, Jia-Hui Liu, Bo-Lun Zhang, Pei-Hua Li, Yi-Jun Yang, Bao-Guo Li, Yan-Qing Guo, Xiao-Guang Qi. Dynamic foraging strategy adaptation to heterogeneous environments contributes to social aggregation in snub-nosed monkeys. Zoological Research, 2024, 45(1): 39-54. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2023.047
Citation: Lan Zhao, Sheng-Nan Ji, Xiao-Bing Du, Jia-Hui Liu, Bo-Lun Zhang, Pei-Hua Li, Yi-Jun Yang, Bao-Guo Li, Yan-Qing Guo, Xiao-Guang Qi. Dynamic foraging strategy adaptation to heterogeneous environments contributes to social aggregation in snub-nosed monkeys. Zoological Research, 2024, 45(1): 39-54. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2023.047

Dynamic foraging strategy adaptation to heterogeneous environments contributes to social aggregation in snub-nosed monkeys

doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2023.047
Permission for field survey in Mts. Qinling was granted by the Shaanxi Forestry Bureau.
Supplementary data to this article can be found online.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
X.G.Q. conceived and designed the study. L.Z. and S.N.J. compiled the dataset. L.Z. analyzed the data. X.B.D, J.H.L, B.L.Z., and P.H.L. performed experiments. L.Z., S.N.J., J.H.L., Y.J.Y., B.G.L., Y.Q.G., and X.G.Q. wrote and revised the manuscript. All authors added materials, helped to revise the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript.
#Authors contributed equally to this work
Funds:  This research was supported by the Biodiversity Survey and Assessment Project of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China (2019HJ2096001006), National Natural Science Foundation of China (32001099, 32170512, 32370524), and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2020M683539)
More Information
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: qixg@nwu.edu.cn
  • Received Date: 2023-05-04
  • Accepted Date: 2023-06-21
  • Published Online: 2023-09-09
  • Publish Date: 2024-01-18
  • The dynamics of animal social structures are heavily influenced by environmental patterns of competition and cooperation. In folivorous colobine primates, prevailing theories suggest that larger group sizes should be favored in rainforests with a year-round abundance of food, thereby reducing feeding competition. Yet, paradoxically, larger groups are frequently found in high-altitude or high-latitude montane ecosystems characterized by a seasonal scarcity of leaves. This contradiction is posited to arise from cooperative benefits in heterogeneous environments. To investigate this hypothesis, we carried out a six-year field study on two neighboring groups of golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana), a species representing the northernmost distribution of colobine primates. Results showed that the groups adjusted their movement and habitat selection in response to fluctuating climates and spatiotemporal variability of resources, indicative of a dynamic foraging strategy. Notably, during the cold, resource-scarce conditions in winter, the large group occupied food-rich habitats but did not exhibit significantly longer daily travel distances than the smaller neighboring group. Subsequently, we compiled an eco-behavioral dataset of 52 colobine species to explore their evolutionary trajectories. Analysis of this dataset suggested that the increase in group size may have evolved via home range expansion in response to the cold and heterogeneous climates found at higher altitudes or latitudes. Hence, we developed a multi-benefits framework to interpret the formation of larger groups by integrating environmental heterogeneity. In cold and diverse environments, even smaller groups require larger home ranges to meet their dynamic survival needs. The spatiotemporal distribution of high-quality resources within these expanded home ranges facilitates more frequent interactions between groups, thereby encouraging social aggregation into larger groups. This process enhances the benefits of collaborative actions and reproductive opportunities, while simultaneously optimizing travel costs through a dynamic foraging strategy.
  • Permission for field survey in Mts. Qinling was granted by the Shaanxi Forestry Bureau.
    Supplementary data to this article can be found online.
    The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
    X.G.Q. conceived and designed the study. L.Z. and S.N.J. compiled the dataset. L.Z. analyzed the data. X.B.D, J.H.L, B.L.Z., and P.H.L. performed experiments. L.Z., S.N.J., J.H.L., Y.J.Y., B.G.L., Y.Q.G., and X.G.Q. wrote and revised the manuscript. All authors added materials, helped to revise the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript.
    #Authors contributed equally to this work
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