Ecological correlates of abundance in the Tana mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus)



I investigated the ecological correlates of abundance in the Tana mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus), one of the world's most endangered primates, with the goal of recommending management strategies. I systematically selected 31 forest fragments throughout the mangabey's 60-km distribution along the lower Tana River in southeastern Kenya. Within the 31 fragments, I measured vegetation structure, food abundance, and human forest product use in 107 belt transects, and conducted 370 mangabey surveys. I used a weighted multiple regression analysis to determine whether there was a dependence between the selected forest attributes and the mean number of mangabey groups per fragment. Fragment area and density of trees ≥10 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) were the only variables that significantly correlated with the variation in mangabey abundance. No additional variables were significant when the analysis was limited to forest fragments inside the Tana River Primate National Reserve (TRPNR) or to fragments outside the TRPNR. When I estimated the resources available before recent human forest product use by adding nonharvested and harvested variables, the total basal area of the top 15 food species became significant. This was only within the TRPNR, however. Management, therefore, should focus on increasing forest area, density of trees ≥10 cm DBH, and coverage of food trees throughout the mangabey's distribution. Solutions must be found for the problem of forest clearing, and forest product use must be better managed to protect the habitat of this critically endangered primate. The significance of food abundance only within the TRPNR suggests a need to collect dietary data from mangabey groups in fragments toward the southern limit of the mangabey's distribution, where plant species composition differs from that in fragments in which dietary data have been previously collected. Am. J. Primatol. 63:125–138, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.