May 26, 2005

How does the white-headed langur (Trachypithecus leucocephalus) adapt locomotor behavior to its unique limestone hill habitat?

Primates; Journal of Primatology
Chengming Huang, Youbang Li


Limestone hill habitats pose unique challenges to langurs. One of the characteristics of this habitat is its cliffs, which account for about 10-20% of the total area. We have never observed langurs falling from the cliffs during our 10-year field study. Five patterns of locomotion were exhibited by the white-headed langur: (1) arboreal ascent and descent, (2) arboreal quadupedalism, (3) terrestrial quadrupadelism, (4) moving on cliffs and (5) leaping on cliffs. Locomotor patterns varied according to the substrate, but terrestrial quadrupedalism accounted for more than 50% of locomotion time. Moving on cliffs and leaping on cliffs may be modes of locomotion unique to the white-headed langur, at least in terms of frequency. White-headed langurs have an intermembral index of 76 and, compared to langurs with a similar intermembral index, are more terrestrial. Further analysis indicates that greater terrestrialism may be the result of adaptation to their limestone habitat. Interestingly, white-headed langurs select caves on the cliff as their sleeping sites, and they exhibit special behaviors for exiting and entering the cave very early in the morning and late in the evening.

Mentioned in this Paper

Biological Adaptation
Longitudinal Survey
Observation in Research
Impacts, Environmental
Body Measure Procedure
Adapt (substance)
Human Activity Profile Test

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