Wild Bornean orangutans experience muscle catabolism during episodes of fruit scarcity

O’Connell C.A., DiGiorgio A.L., Ugarte A.D., Brittain R.S.A., Naumenko D.J., Utami Atmoko S.S., Vogel E.R.

Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States; The Writing Program, Princeton University, Princeton, United States; Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, United States; Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, United States; Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, United States; Faculty of Biology, Universitas Nasional, Jl.Sawo Manila, Jakarta, Indonesia; Primate Research Center, Universitas Nasional, Jl. Sawo Manila, Jakarta, Indonesia


Pronounced temporal and spatial variation in the availability of food resources can produce energetic deficits in organisms. Fruit-dependent Bornean orangutans face extreme variation in fruit availability and experience negative energy and protein balance during episodes of fruit scarcity. We evaluate the possibility that orangutans of different sexes and ages catabolize muscle tissue when the availability of fruit is low. We assess variation in muscle mass by examining the relationship between urinary creatinine and specific gravity and use the residuals as a non-invasive measure of estimated lean body mass (ELBM). Despite orangutans having a suite of adaptations to buffer them from fruit scarcity and associated caloric deficits, ELBM was lower during low fruit periods in all age-sex classes. As predicted, adult male orangutans had higher ELBM than adult females and immatures. Contrary to expectation, flanged and unflanged males did not differ significantly in ELBM. These findings highlight the precarity of orangutan health in the face of rapid environmental change and add to a growing body of evidence that orangutans are characterized by unique metabolic traits shaped by their unpredictable forest environment. © 2021, The Author(s).


Scientific Reports

Publisher: Nature Research

Volume 11, Issue 1, Art No 10185, Page – , Page Count

Journal Link: https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85105806399&doi=10.1038%2fs41598-021-89186-4&partnerID=40&md5=afb3e84bf90568f8d06679cd21f13ec8

doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89186-4

Issn: 20452322

Type: All Open Access, Gold, Green


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