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Geophagy among primates: Adaptive significance and ecological consequences

R. KRISHNAMANI. & WILLIAM C. MAHANEY

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 59(5) : 899-915.

2000

Abstract

We review geophagy, or soil ingestion, in primates. This behaviour is widespread and is presumed to be important to health and nutrition. Primates may engage in geophagy for one or a combination of reasons. Here we present, and make a preliminary assessment of, six nonexclusive hypotheses that may contribute to the prevalence of geophagy. Four hypotheses relate to geophagy in alleviating gastrointestinal disorders or upsets: (1) soils adsorb toxins such as phenolics and secondary metabolites; (2) soil ingestion has an antacid action and adjusts the gut pH; (3) soils act as an antidiarrhoeal agent; and (4) soils counteract the effects of endoparasites. Two hypotheses pertain to geophagy in supplementing minerals and/or elements: (5) soils supplement nutrient-poor diets and (6) soils provide extra iron at high altitudes. In addition to these hypotheses, geophagy may satiate olfactory senses, serve as a famine food and finally may have no function at all. We draw together a large body of information from various sources to assess these hypotheses and suggest some tests to understand the function of geophagy. Our review suggests that primates engage in geophagy for a number of reasons that are nonexclusive. We conclude that mineral supplementation, adsorption of toxins, treatment of diarrhoea and pH adjustment of the gut seem the most plausible reasons why primates engage in geophagy.

 
Geophagy among primates: Adaptive significance and ecological consequences
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hortus

leafindicus

malabaricus

 

by HENDRIK VAN RHEEDE

The Hortus Indicus Malabaricus comprises 12 volumes of about 500 pages each, with 794 copper plate engravings. The first of the 12 volumes of the book was published in 1678, and the last in 1693. It is believed to be the earliest comprehensive printed work on the flora of southern India, Asia and the tropics.

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the flora

leafsylvatica

for southern india

 

by Col. RH BEDDOME

Col. Richard Henry Beddome was a British military officer and naturalist in India. His publications include The Flora Sylvatica for Southern India, 1869–73; Ferns of Southern India, 1873; Ferns of British India, 1876; Forester's Manual of Botany for Southern India, 1869–74; Icones Plantarum Indies Orientalis, 1874.

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plants of the

leafcoast

of coromandel

 

by W ROXBURGH

William Roxburgh was a Scottish surgeon and botanist who worked extensively in India, describing species and working on economic botany. He is known as the founding father of Indian botany. In 1795 Plants of the coast of Coromandel was published in 3 volumes. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society.

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the fauna of british

mothindia

including ... Moths

 

by Sir GF HAMPSON

Sir George Francis Hampson was an English entomologist. Hampson travelled to India to become a tea-planter in the Nilgiri Hills, where he became interested in moths and butterflies. He then commenced work on The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma: Moths (4 volumes 1892-1896).

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