Multiple central place foraging by spider monkeys: travel consequences of using many sleeping sites
Central place foraging models assume that animals return to a single central place such as a nest, burrow, or sleeping site. Many animals, however choose between one of a limited number of central places. Such animals can be considered Multiple Central Place Foragers (MCPF), and such a strategy could reduce overall travel costs, if the forager selected a sleeping site close to current feeding areas. We examined the selection of sleeping sites (central places) by a community of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica in relation to the location of their feeding areas. Spider monkeys repeatedly used 11 sleeping trees, and they tended to choose the sleeping site closest to their current feeding area. A comparison of the observed travel distances with distances predicted for a MCPF strategy, a single central place strategy, and a strategy of randomly selecting sleeping sites demonstrated (1) that the MCPF strategy entailed the lowest travel costs, and (2) that the observed travel distance was best predicted by the MCPF strategy. Deviations between the observed distance travelled and the values predicted by the MCPF model increased after a feeding site had been used for several days. This appears to result from animals sampling their home range to locate new feeding sites.