The use of plants by humans and non-human primates in altered landscapes: diet flexibility or local adaptation?

Principal researcher: Isa Aleixo Pais

Research group: Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography


Primatology | Behavioural plasticity | Conservation genomics | Ethnobotany

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)






Most forest ecosystems are being rapidly altered due to natural and/or anthropogenic factors. These changes affect food availability, posing great challenges to forest-dwelling primates. Although most primates are negatively affected by habitat degradation, some can adapt their diet and thus are more resilient to such changes. To understand the impacts of habitat fragmentation and degradation, our project combines ecological and Next Generation Sequencing approaches to characterize the diet flexibility of three sympatric West African nonhuman primates, with different levels of forest dependency, in fragmented (Guinea-Bissau) and non-fragmented habitats (Sierra Leone). As primates are not the only plant consumers, we will assess the use of wild plants by local communities using ethnobotanical approaches. This multi-disciplinary study this constitutes a unique opportunity to evaluate the use of plants by both humans and non-human primates and potentially contribute to the implementation of a community-based conservation strategy in the two areas.


Full members

Amélia Frazão Moreira

Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography

Michael Bruford (Cardiff University)

Full members

Tânia Minhós

Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography