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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 14:31-38 (2011)  -  DOI:

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

Responses of animals to habitat alteration: an overview focussing on primates

Christoph Schwitzer1,*, Livvy Glatt1, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris2, Jörg U. Ganzhorn3

1Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, c/o Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA, UK
2Nocturnal Primate Research Group, School of Social Sciences and Law, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
3Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

ABSTRACT: Original habitat of animal species is being destroyed at an accelerating rate. This is usually associated with an alteration of the remaining habitat, which becomes degraded and/or fragmented. In many regions, forests are cleared to make way for plantations or other agricultural use, and animal species are forced to coexist with humans. In some countries, forests are in the process of being restored for wildlife. As even long-established and well-protected areas typically comprise mosaics of habitats with different degrees of degradation, the future conservation of many species will depend on the capacity of such altered habitats to support their populations. During the last 15 yr, more and more studies have addressed the way that different species respond to the human-induced change of their habitats. These responses are varied, and range from population decline to adaptation and development of new behavioural strategies. Whereas some species rely heavily on intact primary forests, others can adapt to secondary forests and forest-agriculture mosaics. Habitat change has been shown to affect many aspects of the ecology and behaviour of animals. Changes in dietary composition and diversity, population density, group size and adult sex ratio in groups are some examples. This Theme Section of Endangered Species Research collates a number of case studies on how animals, and particularly primates, respond to the alteration of their habitat.

KEY WORDS: Habitat alteration · Degradation · Fragmentation · Agricultural use · Restoration · Primates

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Cite this article as: Schwitzer C, Glatt L, Nekaris KAI, Ganzhorn JU (2011) Responses of animals to habitat alteration: an overview focussing on primates. Endang Species Res 14:31-38.

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