201-08s-10-FoodTerr - Introduction to Biological...

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Introduction to Biological Anthropology: Notes 10 Basic primate ecology: Food and territory Copyright Bruce Owen 2008 - We want to understand - the lifestyles of our non-human primate relatives - their physical traits, both the ways they are similar to ours and how they are different - their behavior, both how it is similar to ours and how it is different - the evolutionary pressures that led them to become the way they are - if we understand non-human primates and how natural selection works on them, then - we will have good tools and analogies for understanding our own ancestors - who we cannot observe directly, since they are long gone - Recap of a key concept: reproductive success - recall that evolution is only partially the result of differences in how well individuals survive - what really matters is how much they reproduce - the traits of the ones that leave the most offspring become more common - this is often expressed in terms of reproductive success - essentially the number of fertile offspring produced by an individual - natural selection favors any feature that increases average reproductive success - by increasing - likelihood of survival - general health (leading to more surviving offspring) - success in competition for mates - survival of offspring (for example, parental care) - or other factors - and also the optimum balance between them to produce the most total surviving offspring - as in not expending so much effort caring for one offspring that the individual loses the chance to have a second one, and so on - we will try to explain physical and behavioral traits of primates in terms of how they contribute to maximizing reproductive success - 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 - finding, processing, eating, and digesting food - avoiding predators - Food requirements - food provides the energy (calories) required for an animal to survive and grow - how much food is needed? That depends on:
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Intro to Biological Anthro S 2008 / Owen: Primate ecology p. 2 - Basal metabolic rate - 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, and have to eat more total calories per day just to stay alive - but as we look at animals with larger and larger bodies, the metabolic rate (calories per hour) rises more slowly than the body weight - a larger animal 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
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201-08s-10-FoodTerr - Introduction to Biological...

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