When looking at all the animals who live in the forest, we sometimes ask ourselves how they get their food without competing with other species. If you remember your biology classes, when we talk about what animals eat, there is a list of food categories like fruits, leaves, flowers, other animals…
But in tropical forest where there is a high diversity of animals, it have to be some kind of overlapping between what different animals can eat. So, they do to not compete between them and still get enough food to live.
There are several strategies. For example some species that eats mostly the same food categories living in the same forest avoid competition by being nocturnal instead of diurnal, like the Brumback night monkeys in the study area who’s diet overlaps mostly with dusky titi monkeys and with whom they sometimes even share nesting sites.
Other strategy is to use different substrates or different feeding heights. For example, Colombian squirrel monkeys and black-capped capuchins which both consumed insects and spiders. This two species also forms mixed troops, big groups of both species moving and eating together. One way in which they reduce competition is by searching insects and spiders in different substrates.
So black-capped capuchins looks more in dead branches while squirrel monkeys look under live and dead leaves. Also when they move in mixed troops they used to go at different heights, with black-capped capuchins using the canopy more than the medium and lower parts of the forest. However, they sometimes mixed and even go to the ground and search on fallen leaves all together.
Another example of using different heights to avoid competition between them happen when they all meet at big fig trees, where you can see up to three species eating from the same tree but at different heights, with red howler monkeys at the top, black-capped capuchins in the middle and squirrel monkeys at the lower branches or all around the tree.
Also, there are species that simply avoid each other. For example, it is common that dusky titi monkeys move from a fruit tree where they were feeding when black-capped capuchins arrive.
A different strategy used for other monkey species is to eat unripe fruits instead of waiting for the fruits to mature an become more tasty for other species.
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