Food selection by folivorous primates is thought to relate to macronutrients, micronutrients and plant secondary
metabolites. However, few studies explain their effects on food choices. This study was designed to clarify the effect of
phytochemical components on Rhinopithecus bieti
food choice by analyzing the chemical composition of food samples collected from March to May in 2010 and 2011 at Mt. Lasha in northwest Yunnan, China. Compared with non-foods, there was more phosphorous and crude protein, less total sugar and a lower ratio of calcium to phosphorus in selected foods. However, no differences were found in crude fat, crude ash, calcium and tannin content between foods and non-foods. Phytochemical constituents may
influence food choices; the monkeys preferred foods with high phosphorus and low Ca/P, low calcium, low sugar and low tannins. Rhinopithecus bieti
foraged high quality foods such as buds and young leaves to meet their nutritional needs after a long winter. Therefore, if tannin content in food did not exceed the enduring threshold of R. bieti
, the nutrient intake was prioritized by phosphorus and calcium regulation when the need for macronutrients dominated by protein was satisfied.