The genus Saguinus represents a successful radiation of over 20 species of small-bodied New World monkeys. Studies of the tamarin diet indicate that insects and small vertebrates account for ∼16-45% of total feeding and foraging time, and represent an important source of lipids, protein, and metabolizable energy. Although tamarins are reported to commonly consume large-bodied insects such as grasshoppers and walking sticks (Orthoptera), little is known concerning the degree to which smaller or less easily identifiable arthropod prey comprises an important component of their diet. To better understand tamarin arthropod feeding behavior, fecal samples from 20 wild Bolivian saddleback tamarins (members of five groups) were collected over a 3 week period in June 2012, and analyzed for the presence of arthropod DNA. DNA was extracted using a Qiagen stool extraction kit, and universal insect primers were created and used to amplify a ∼280 bp section of the COI mitochondrial gene. Amplicons were sequenced on the Roche 454 sequencing platform using high-throughput sequencing techniques. An analysis of these samples indicated the presence of 43 taxa of arthropods including 10 orders, 15 families, and 12 identified genera. Many of these taxa had not been previously identified in the tamarin diet. These results highlight molecular analysis of fecal DNA as an important research tool for identifying anthropod feeding patterns in primates, and reveal broad diversity in the taxa, foraging microhabitats, and size of arthropods consumed by tamarin monkeys.
- Feeding ecology
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