ESR 13:41-50 (2010)  -  DOI:

Contribution to the Theme Section 'Responses of animals to habitat alteration'

Initial effects of fragmentation on the density of three neotropical primate species in two lowland forests of Colombia

Andres Link1,2,*, Ana Gabriela de Luna1,3, Felipe Alfonso4, Paola Giraldo-Beltran5, Fernando Ramirez6

1Proyecto Primates, Carrera 11a No. 91–55, Bogotá, Colombia
2Department of Anthropology, New York University, 25 Waverly Place, New York, New York 10003, USA
3Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, c/ Jose Antonio Novais n 2 Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid 28040, Spain
4Departamento de Biologia, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Carrera 7 No. 40–62, Bogota, Colombia
5Programa de Agronomia, and 6Programa de Biologia, Universidad de Caldas, Calle 65 No. 26–10, Manizales, Colombia

ABSTRACT: Fragmentation and habitat destruction are 2 factors driving the current decline of mammal populations. Spider monkeys Ateles spp. are some of the first neotropical mammals to go extinct after fragmentation, as they (1) are large-bodied, specialized frugivores that require large areas to subsist, (2) are preferred targets for local hunters, (3) have slow reproductive cycles, and (4) rarely move between adjacent forest fragments. Brown spider monkeys A. hybridus are Critically Endangered, and most of their historical habitat has either been cleared or is seriously fragmented. We conducted census surveys at 2 areas in Colombia (Las Quinchas and San Juan) in order to compare the population density of brown spider monkeys, red howler monkeys Alouatta seniculus, and white-fronted capuchins Cebus albifrons in both continuous forest and recently fragmented forest in each of these 2 areas. We found a higher density of brown spider monkeys and red howler monkeys in recent fragments at both sites, while differences were not consistent for white-fronted capuchins. We suggest that these patterns could be explained by the constrained ability of spider monkeys and howler monkeys to move between forest fragments and to exploit impacted or degraded areas. In the absence of hunting, the immediate effects of fragmentation on spider monkeys seem to lead to a sudden increase in population density as a result of a decreasing forested area, while maintaining population numbers relatively stable. Longer-term research will lead to the identification of the proximate factors leading to the generalized pattern of local extinction of spider monkey populations in small isolated fragments.

KEY WORDS: Ateles hybridus · Endangered species · Fragmentation · Line transects · Population density

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Cite this article as: Link A, de Luna AG, Alfonso F, Giraldo-Beltran P, Ramirez F (2010) Initial effects of fragmentation on the density of three neotropical primate species in two lowland forests of Colombia. Endang Species Res 13:41-50.

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