Spider monkey home ranges: A comparison of radio telemetry and direct observation



The ranging patterns of two male and five female spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) were studied with the use of radio telemetry in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. The average size of a spider monkey home range was 62.4 hectares; however, range size varied with sex, and, for females, with the presence of a dependent infant. The probability of encountering a radio-collared spider monkey in a three-hour search using radio telemetry (0.91) was much greater than using a visual search (0.20), and telemetric data resulted in a larger estimate of mean home range size than did observational data, when all subjects were compared. However, the difference appeared to be owing to the presence of male ranges in the telemetric, but not the observational, data. When the size of home ranges derived from radio-tracking data for adult females was compared to size of ranges for adult females derived from observations, the results were not significantly different. Adult males had larger home ranges than adult females, thus lending support to the hypothesis that males have adapted to the dispersion of females by occupying a large home range that overlaps the ranges of several adult females. The smallest home ranges were occupied by low-weight females with dependent infants, perhaps reflecting social and energetic constraints.