Effect of Seasonality on the Behavior of an Insectivorous Primate, Tarsius spectrum Academic Article uri icon


  • The distribution and quality of food resources is generally recognized as the preeminent factor explaining much interspecific and intraspecific variation in the behavior of nonhuman primates. Primates that live in seasonal environments often show predictable responses to fluctuating resources. In order to compensate for the reduction in resource availability, primates variously switch to alternative, poorer quality food sources, increase the amount of time they spend foraging, or increase their daily path length. Some primate species reduce their group size or maximize the group dispersion. I address whether spectral tarsiers (Tarsius spectrum), which are insectivores, modify their behavior in the same ways as frugivores and folivores in response to seasonal or scarce resources. My results indicate that wild spectral tarsiers modify their activity budget in response to seasonal resources. Specifically, during periods of low resource availability, spectral tarsier males and females spent more time traveling and foraging compared to their activity budget during the wet season. Males and females not only increased the amount of time they spent foraging during times of low resource abundance but also modified their foraging behavior. During the wet season, when resource abundance was high, they consumed Orthoptera and Lepidoptera with greater frequency than during the dry season. During the dry season, when resource abundance was low, spectral tarsiers still ate numerous Orthoptera and Lepidoptera, but they also increased consumption of Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. Spectral tarsiers were also more likely to be involved in territorial disputes during the dry season than during the wet season. Intragroup encounters decreased in frequency in the dry season versus the frequency of encounters during the wet season.

published proceedings

  • International Journal of Primatology

author list (cited authors)

  • Gursky, S.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Gursky, Sharon

publication date

  • June 2000