Cafeteria-style feeding trials provide new insights into the diet and nutritional strategies of the black snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri): Implications for conservation

Yin Yang, Qihua Li, Paul A. Garber, Cyril C. Grueter, Guopeng Ren, Xinwen Wang, Zhipang Huang, Zuofu Xiang, Wen Xiao, Alison Behie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic changes and fragmentation of natural habitats often exert a negative effect on resource availability and distribution, and the nutritional ecology and feeding behavior of nonhuman primates. The goals of this study are to examine food choice and to identify the nutritional profile of foods consumed by the Critically Endangered black snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri). To accomplish our study goals, we presented cafeteria-style feeding trials of fresh food items collected in the home range of wild black snub-nosed monkeys to the only two captive R. strykeri, and compared the nutritional profiles of the leafy foods (buds, young, and mature leaves, 100 i23tems from 70 plant species) selected with those avoided (54 items from 48 plant species). Overall, the results indicate that captive R. strykeri selected foods that were higher in moisture (Mo; 77.7%), crude protein (CP; 21.2%), total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC; 34.9%), and phosphorus (P; 0.37%) while tending to avoid foods with a neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of greater than 46.8%. Leaves collected in autumn and selected by the monkeys were characterized by a slightly higher amount of metabolizable energy (ME) than those rejected (1,350 kJ/100 g vs. 1,268 kJ/100 g). In contrast, the protein content of foods collected and consumed during the spring was greater (22.9%) than in autumn (16.4%). Random Forests modeling, an ensemble learning method, indicated that the proportion of Mo, NDF, ME, CP, P, and TNC were among the most important factors in predicting which items were consumed by the captive R. strykeri during spring and autumn. On the basis of the nutritional profile of foods consumed across the two seasons, we identified 18 nutrient-rich native plant species that we recommend for use in ex- and in-situ conservation management and reforestation programs to provide long-term access to a nutritionally adequate diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23108
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • diet selection
  • ex- and in-situ conservation
  • Myanmar snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri
  • nutritional ecology
  • protein-fiber ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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