Examining the extinction risk of specialized folivores: a comparative study of Colobine monkeys

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Abstract

Species extinctions are nonrandom with some taxa appearing to possess traits that increase their extinction risk. In this study, eight predictors of extinction risk were used as independent variables to predict the IUCN category of a subfamily of specialized folivorous primates, the Colobinae. All data were transformed into phylogenetically independent contrasts and were analyzed using bivariate regressions, multiple regression, and a maximum likelihood approach using Akaike's Information Criterion to assess model performance. Once an outlier was removed from the data set, species that devote a smaller proportion of their diet to mature leaf consumption appear to be at a greater risk of extinction. Also, as female body mass increases, so does extinction risk. In contrast, as maximum latitude and the number of habitat types increase, extinction risk appears to decrease. These findings emphasize the importance of examining detailed dietary variation for predicting extinction risk at a relatively fine taxonomic scale and, consequently, may help improve conservation management. Am. J. Primatol. 70:816–827, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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