Royal Society Publishing

The Nutritional Consequences of Foraging in Primates: The Relationship of Nutrient Intakes to Nutrient Requirements [and Discussion[

Olav T. Oftedal , A. Whiten , D. A. T. Southgate , P. Van Soest

Abstract

Many studies have examined the proportion of time that primates devote to feeding on various types of food, but relatively little is known about the intake rates associated with each food. However, the nutritional consequences of foraging can only be interpreted by comparing nutrient intakes with estimated nutrient requirements. The energy available to primates from ingested foods will depend both on the composition of the food and the extent to which various constituents, including fibre fractions, are digested. Both human and non-human primates have relatively low requirements for protein as a consequence of slow growth rates, small milk yields and relatively dilute milk. Because the nutrient demands of growth and reproduction are spread out over time, it appears that primates do not need to seek out foods of particularly high nutrient density, except perhaps during weaning. Although food selection in some species of primates appears to be correlated with the protein concentration of foods, it is unlikely that high dietary protein levels are required, at least when foods of balanced amino acid composition (such as leaves) are included in the diet.