Feeding ecology and seed dispersal by Ateles hybridus, Alouatta seniculus and Cebus albifrons in a fragmented area at San Juan del Carare, Colombia : ecology of a monkey community in a fragment

University essay from SLU/Swedish Biodiversity Centre

Abstract: In Colombia, habitat disturbance and fragmentation due to human activities are major threats to biodiversity. Primates are very sensitive and are often being confined to small patches in formerly extensive forests. This is especially true for Ateles hybridus, a taxa identified as critically endangered and the major target of this project. With the aim to study the effects of habitat fragmentation on a monkey community, the feeding behaviour and seed dispersal of the sympatric A. hybridus, Alouatta seniculus and Cebus albifrons was assessed in a fragmented (isolated) forest with a high density of primates, in a cattle ranch in the Middle Magdalena, Colombia, in order to assess the way they are adapting to adverse conditions in terms of food and habitat availability. Scan sampling methods were used to collect systematic data, focused on describing activity budgets, diet, and home range of the species studied, as well as seed dispersal patterns. A. hybridus plays a major role in forest dynamics due to the quantity and variety of the seeds it disperses. Although all three sympatric species are present in this small fragment, they are showing different activity patterns and feeding preferences, experiencing overlaps in their area and feeding resources, and sharing intensely used habitat areas where there is an overuse of feeding resources. Therefore the three species of monkeys are experiencing scramble competition, where it is possible that the fruits are the limiting factor. All those findings together could rescue the long-term survival and viability of these primates.

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