The species-area relationship and confounding variables in a threatened monkey community.

Research paper by Andrew R AR Marshall, Helle I O HI Jørgensbye, Francesco F Rovero, Philip J PJ Platts, Piran C L PC White, Jon C JC Lovett

Indexed on: 30 Dec '09Published on: 30 Dec '09Published in: American Journal of Primatology


This study investigates the species-area relationship (SAR) for forest monkeys in a biodiversity hotspot. The Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania are well-suited to investigate the SAR, with seven monkey species in a range of fragment sizes (0.06-526 km(2)). We test the relationship between species richness and forest fragment size, relative to human and environmental factors. We distinguish resident and transitory species because the latter have an "effective patch size" beyond the area of forest. Forest area was the strongest (log-linear) predictor of species richness. However, forest area, elevation range and annual moisture index were intercorrelated. Previous knowledge of the relationship between elevation and tree communities suggests that the SAR is largely a result of habitat heterogeneity. Isolation by farmland (matrix habitat) also had a significant negative effect on species richness, probably exacerbated by hunting in small forests. The effect of area and isolation was less for transitory species. The human influence on species' presence/absence was negatively related to the extent of occurrence. Weaker relationships with temperature and precipitation suggest underlying climatic influences, and give some support for the influence of productivity. A reduced area relationship for smaller forests suggests that fragment sizes below 12-40 km(2) may not be reliable for determining SAR in forest monkeys. Further practical implications are for management to encourage connectivity, and for future SAR research to consider residency, matrix classification and moisture besides precipitation.