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Forest maturity has a stronger influence on the prevalence of spider monkeys than howler monkeys in an anthropogenically impacted rainforest landscape.

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Dunn, JC 
Martínez-Mota, R 
Cristóbal-Azkárate, J 
Gillingham, PK 


The transformation and depletion of primary forest over the past few decades have placed almost half of the world's primate species under the threat of extinction. Developing any successful conservation program for primates requires distribution and demography data, as well as an understanding of the relationships between these factors and their habitat. Between March and June 2010 and 2011 we collected data on the presence and demographic parameters of howler and spider monkeys by carrying out surveys, and validated our findings using local knowledge. We then examined the relationship between forest type and the presence of these primates at 54 sites in the northern area of the Selva Zoque Corridor, Mexico. We detected 86 spider monkey groups across 31 plots and censused 391 individuals (mean ± SD = 5.9 ± 3.0 individuals per sub-group, n = 67 sub-groups). We also detected 69 howler monkey groups across 30 plots and censused 117 individuals (mean ± SD = 5.3 ± 2.4 individuals per group, n = 22 groups). Howler monkey presence was not related to any specific vegetation type, while spider monkeys were present in areas with a higher percentage of tall forest (trees > 25 m high). Overall, spider monkeys were more prevalent than howler monkeys in our sampling sites and showed demographic characteristics similar to those in better protected areas, suggesting that the landscape features in the Uxpanapa Valley are suitable for their needs. Conversely, howler monkey presence was found to be more limited than in other regions, possibly due to the extended presence of spider monkeys.


Funder: Bournemouth University


Alouatta, Ateles, Endangered primates, Habitat loss, Primate conservation, Alouatta, Animals, Atelinae, Forests, Prevalence, Rainforest

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
CONACyT (108990, 195409)