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Keywords:

  • snow storms;
  • Rhinopithecus roxellana hubeiensis;
  • mass mortality;
  • group structure;
  • conservation

Abstract

Natural disasters can negatively affect primate population demography and social group structure. A clear understanding of these effects has important implications for wildlife conservation. The worst snow storms in nearly five decades hit portions of southern and central China between January 10 and February 6, 2008, presenting a unique opportunity to observe their immediate effects on a previously studied group of Hubei Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana hubeiensis) in temperate forests in Shennongjia Nature Reserve, Hubei Province, China. We recorded social and demographic characteristics of the group before and after the snow storms. The average group size decreased from 270 individuals before the storms to 197 individuals after the storms, a reduction of 27.2%. Adult females (30.1%), juveniles (38.1%) and infants (55.4%) suffered higher mortality than did adult males (15.7%). Despite age and sex-based differences in mortality, the ratios of adult males to adult females, adults to immatures and adult females to immatures remained similar before and after the storms. However, higher mortality among females, juveniles and infants may reduce the group's long-term potential for growth. Am. J. Primatol. 71:523–526, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.