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Understanding foraging flexibility in urban vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, for the benefit of human-wildlife coexistence

Thatcher, H, Downs, C and Koyama, NF Understanding foraging flexibility in urban vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, for the benefit of human-wildlife coexistence. Urban Ecosystems. ISSN 1083-8155 (Accepted)

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Abstract

Generalist wildlife species often thrive in urban environments because of increased anthropogenic resources. However, human-wildlife interactions, especially if negative, raise concerns for urban wildlife management. An enhanced understanding of wildlife behavioural flexibility has been suggested to be a key tool to provide educated and effective management strategies. We therefore investigated how availability of semi-naturally occurring food affected behavioural foraging patterns of urban vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), a generalist primate commonly found in urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Over one year, we conducted 20 min. focal animal observations recording foraging behaviour and food consumption. We used a combination of a generalised linear model and descriptive statistics to examine the relationship between anthropogenic food consumption and semi-natural food availability. Our analyses showed that anthropogenic food consumption decreased as semi-natural food availability increased. We also showed that increased aggression from humans towards vervet monkeys decreased time spent foraging on anthropogenic food. Our study highlights how vervet monkeys have adapted to their urban landscape, showing foraging flexibility in response to available food resources and the frequency of human interactions. We suggest how our results can be applied for management recommendations, particularly controlling anthropogenic food availability and decreasing negative human-wildlife interactions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0501 Ecological Applications, 0602 Ecology
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Date Deposited: 20 May 2020 11:56
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 12:00
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12973

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