Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Katherine Smith, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Abstract

Observing the predatory nature in primates has yielded knowledge pertaining to their biology and evolutionary pathways; however, not many studies have focused on the complexities of their food preferences. This thesis focuses on food preferences among Garnett’s Greater Bushbaby (Otolemur garnettii): a small-bodied nocturnal primate native to Central and Southern Africa. Presented food options were raisins: dried mealworms and raisins: live mealworms. The population consists of fifteen bushbabies housed in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Primate Behavior Research Facility. Ten trials of three different experiments were performed to identify the dominant hand and food preferences among the USM bushbaby population. Five trials compared bushbaby preferences of live mealworms to raisins, while the other five compared bushbaby preferences of dried mealworms to raisins. The bushbabies showed a preference for raisins over dried mealworms and showed no preference between raisins and live mealworms. Results indicate that the USM population of bushbabies mimic the wild diet of 1:1 ratio of insects to fruit. Additionally, bushbabies would often use their mouth to grab the food directly rather than one or both of their hands; however, when hands were used, many subjects showed hand dominance. The resemblance of the captive population food preferences to the typical wild diet indicates that the USM population has not altered from their wild behavior in regards to diet. Our findings are intended to provide expanded insight on the food preference and predatory instinct of captive O. garnettii, furthering the knowledge regarding the preservation of natural diet in captive bushbabies.

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