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Biodiversity Resources in Belgium
|Dr Kristel De Vleeschouwer|
Phone (professional): +32-(0)3-202.45.79
Fax (professional): +32-(0)2-202.45.47
Research done at:
Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (RZSA)
= Société royale de Zoologie Anvers
= Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Dierkunde Antwerpen (KMDA)
In order to survive and reproduce, animals need sufficient amounts of energy and nutrient sources. The Optimal Foraging Theory predicts that the composition of a diet is such that animals will maximise their energy intake. Habitats differ in productivity and animals will therefore prefer to reside in the habitat that offers the highest net energy intake. Apart from that, other factors such as the presence of particular foraging microhabitats and the risk of predation will have their impact on the feeding ecology of a species. The combination of these factors determines the carrying capacity of a habitat.
Disturbance of habitats can lead to changes in the diversity, spatial and temporal distribution of the available food and other resources, or in predation pressure. The ecological flexibility of a species will determine whether and how it is capable of surviving under these altered circumstances. This can lead to adaptations in e.g. the feeding ecology, butalso the population structure and territorial behaviour of a species.
Marmosets and tamarins (Callitrichidae) are evolutionarily strongly specialised for the colonisation of marginal and disturbed habitats. Although representatives of the genus Leontopithecus (lion tamarins) are capable of exploiting more or less strongly disturbed areas, their specialised insect foraging methods and their habit to sleep in tree holes implicates that this group is evolutionarily specialised for the exploitation of relatively undisturbed forests. However, most populations are currently forced to survive in disturbed habitats. Group territories of golden-headed lion tamarins (L. chrysomelas) frequently encompass several types of forest habitat. The diet ofthis species consists mainly of fruit and insects, in addition to small quantities of flowers, nectar, tree exudates and small vertebrates. Most of these resources show seasonal fluctuations in availability. Apart from these temporal fluctuations, the diversity and spatial distribution of resources can also vary strongly between forest habitats. This can lead to variation in the suitability of these habitats for groups of golden-headed lion tamarins, and consequently their carrying capacity. Further, differences in the density of the canopy and undergrowth will also determine the risk of predation. Because of their small body size, callitrichids are very sensitive to predation, which in turn strongly determines their social and reproductive behaviour.
Publications related to this research:
De Vleeschouwer K., Heistermann M., Van Elsacker L. & Verheyen R.F. (2000). Signaling of reproductive status in captive female golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas). International Journal of Primatology 21(3): 445-465.
De Vleeschouwer K., Leus K. & Van Elsacker L. (2000). An evaluation of the suitability of contraceptive methods in golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), with emphasis on melengestrol acetate (MGA-) implants: I. Effectiveness, reversibility and medical side effects. Animal Welfare 9(3): 251-271.
De Vleeschouwer K., Van Elsacker L. & Leus K (2001). Multiple breeding females in captive groups of golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas): causes and consequences. Folia Primatologica 72:1-10.
De Vleeschouwer K., Van Elsacker L., Leus K. & Heistermann M. (2000). An evaluation of the suitability of contraceptive methods in golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), with emphasis on melengestrol acetate (MGA-) implants: II. Endocrinological and behavioural effects. Animal Welfare 9(4): 385-401.
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