a201-11f-15-FoodRange

a201-11f-15-FoodRange - Introduction to Biological...

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Introduction to Biological Anthropology: Notes 15 Primate ecology: Food and range Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - In order to understand primates’ physical and behavioral traits, and to realistically assess how the traits affect their reproductive success, we need to understand the ecology of primates - that is, how they fit into their environments - which includes both the physical surroundings - and other primates - The ecology of primates (like other animals) depends on a number of variables - Boyd and Silk emphasize two main ones - Food: finding, processing, eating, and digesting it - Predators: avoiding getting eaten, and avoiding having your offspring get eaten - Food requirements - food provides the energy (calories) required for an animal to survive and grow - how much food does a primate need? That depends on: - Basal metabolic rate (BMR) - the rate an animal expends energy just to stay alive while at rest - can be measured in calories per hour - larger animals require more energy to maintain their bodies than smaller ones - so larger animals have a higher basal metabolic rate - they need to eat more total calories per hour just to stay alive - but larger bodies are more efficient - because their larger bodies conserve heat better, losing less through their outer surface - and for other reasons - as we look at animals with larger and larger bodies, the metabolic rate (calories per hour) rises more slowly than the body weight - so even though a larger animal needs more calories in total , it needs fewer calories per pound of body weight than a smaller animal - so a smaller animal has to eat more relative to its body weight - so smaller animals generally have to concentrate on foods with a high caloric payoff per pound or per volume of food - like insects, gum, fruit - these are usually fairly scarce - think of hummingbirds, eating high-sugar flower nectar - all animals would be happy to subsist on such high-quality food - but there just is not enough of it around, or it is distributed in packages too small, to support a large-bodied animal - while larger animals can eat foods with lower caloric content per pound or per unit volume - like leaves, bark, etc. - think of elephants, which eat leaves, straw, woody plant parts - the elephant has to eat these in large quantities and digest them for a long time
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Intro to Biological Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Primate ecology p. 2 - these foods have fewer calories per pound of food - but are widely available, so a large animal with a lower requirement of calories per pound of body weight can find enough - but a small animal could not stuff enough of these foods into its body at one time to get the calories it needed - activity requires additional energy - so a typical animal might need to eat enough to provide twice its basal metabolic rate - thus a very active animal needs more food than one that moves slowly - growing requires additional energy - so infants and juveniles need to eat relatively more than their body weight and activity
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a201-11f-15-FoodRange - Introduction to Biological...

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