Behaviour 2019
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Reassessing feeding preference in the urban-adapted grey langurs in West Bengal, India
Dishari Dasgupta1, Arnab Banerjee2,3, Rikita Kanrar1, Debolina Banerjee1, Shohini Mitra1, Purnendu Sardar4, Srijita Karmakar5, Aparajita Bhattacharya1, Swastika Ghosh1, Pritha Bhattacharjee1, Manabi Paul1. 1University of Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bengal, India; 2Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal, India; 3Visva-bharati Universtiy, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India; 4Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India; 5Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

For the last few decades urbanization had a profound effect on the ecosystem and it altered human-animal movements and their interactions. While some animals failed to adapt to their new surroundings, few managed to thrive within urban settlements by altering their resource preference. Feeding census carried out in our urban and rural field sites revealed that folivorous free ranging Gray langurs residing in the urban area are more dependent on anthropogenic food sources in contrast to their wild brethren. Observing a tentative altered feeding habit, we carried out a choice-based field experiment. Langurs chose between ‘processed’ and ‘unprocessed’ food options in 83 experimental trials, of which 74 were considered for the final analysis. We recorded langurs’ attempts and delays in food selection, aggression, and rejection with regard to the food items, which were then analysed through a multivariate logit model. The model revealed that folivorous langurs had a clear preference towards processed food options. Such an altered feeding preference might play a pivotal role in their successful co-existence with humans in an urban ecosystem.