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Primate Population Densities and Sizes in Atlantic Forest Remnants of Northern Espírito Santo, Brazil

Research paper by Adriano G. Chiarello, Fabiano R. de Melo

Indexed on: 01 Jun '01Published on: 01 Jun '01Published in: International journal of primatology



Abstract

We surveyed primates in seven fragments of Atlantic forest ranging from 210 to 24,250 ha in Espírito Santo, southeastern Brazil. The objective was to assess their population densities and fragment-specific population sizes in order to discuss the survival of primates in this highly fragmented landscape. We used line-transect sampling for censusing primates and estimated densities via DISTANCE program. Alouatta fusca, Cebus apella, Callicebus personatus, and Callithrix geoffroyi live in the study area. Although variable, primate numbers were higher in larger than in smaller fragments, the likely reasons being the lack of space and food resources (fruits) and higher impact of mesopredators (small cats) in small fragments. The estimated densities are within the range reported for other Atlantic forest sites, except for brown howlers (Alouatta fusca), which were extremely rare. Estimates of population sizes were on the order of several hundreds to thousands of individuals/species in the large-sized fragments (ca. 20,000 ha), while comparable estimates for the other areas indicate <500 individuals/species in the medium-sized reserves (ca. 2,000 ha), and <50 individuals/species in the small fragments (ca. 200 ha). These estimates suggest that only Atlantic forest fragments ≥20,000 ha can harbor primate populations large enough to escape extinction in the long term. Given that <20% of all protected areas remaining in the Atlantic forest are ≥20,000 ha, management measures are urgently needed to improve primate conservation in this biome.