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Abundance of Diurnal Primates in Mwanihana Forest, Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania


Many individual researchers have used line transect counts to estimate forest primate abundance. They have devoted less attention to the interpretation of line transect data obtained by several observers, as is often the case in long-term monitoring programs. We present primate relative abundance data that 5 observers collected over 6 yr (not continuous) along 4 different transects each 4 km long in the Mwanihana Forest, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Total distance walked during transect repetitions is ca. 700 km. The species we saw most frequently was the endemic Udzungwa red colobus Procolobus gordonorum (mean 0.59 groups/km walked), followed by the Angolan black-and-white colobus Colobus angolensis (0.43 groups/km) and Sykes’s monkey Cercopithecus mitis (0.35 groups/km). We sighted the endemic Sanje mangabey Cercocebus galeritus sanjei and the yellow baboon Papio cynocephalus infrequently, the latter being confined to the deciduous forest parts of the transects. We analyzed sighting frequency by gross habitat type, transect, season, and observer. Interobserver differences in the relative abundance of each species were moderate and the few cases of significant variations were due to discordance of only 1 observer from the others. Estimated distances of primate group sightings differ significantly among observers, thus preventing us from deriving estimates of absolute density. Frequency distributions of distance-class intervals are not significantly different among observers, which may indicate gross interobserver consistency in the width of the area sampled. We conclude that unless consistency in data collection is checked, as we did for 2 observers who collected data simultaneously, potential interobserver differences remain an underlying source of variance in the results that cannot be separated from other sources of variance.