Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Herbert H. Covert

Second Advisor

Dennis Van Gerven

Third Advisor

Michelle Sauther

Fourth Advisor

Matt Sponheimer

Fifth Advisor

Barth Wright

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the nutritional ecology of the black-shanked douc (Pygathrix nigripes), an endangered colobine, in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam. Because a lack of knowledge about the ecological needs and behavioral patterns of this colobine may well affect long-termed conservation planning, this study undertook a multi-year investigation of ranging behaviors and feeding choices in an effort to better understand the chemical make up of foods either selected or rejected by this species. In order to assess how selective the animals were in feeding, phenological transects were established to measure forest productivity throughout the year. These transects showed that Cat Tien NP is a highly seasonal environment with a marked wet season and dry season. This seasonality is a driving factor in where the doucs are ranging in order to track seasonal leaf resources. This study also showed selection for leaf material that was higher in protein, as well as higher in fiber, an interesting outcome in light of many arguments that lower fiber leaves will always be selected. Other important nutrients included higher levels of potassium, sodium, and iron. In addition to the feeding of these animals, an investigation into the parasites these animals harbor was undertaken to better understand the requirements and challenges they face. Parasite species recorded include Strongyloides sp., Trichuris sp., and Physalopterra sp., as well an unidentified tapeworm and pinworm. Eighty-three percent of the samples were infected by at least one species of parasite, and 58% of the samples were infected by at least two species. Black-shanked doucs were more likely to be infected by gastrointestinal parasites than to be free of infection (p2=21.333, df = 1). The results of this study can be applied to both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts. A better understanding of the habitat requirements of this species can aid in the preservation of landscapes for this animal, and a clearer knowledge of nutritional requirements can help in the care and feeding of these animals in captivity.

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