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Keywords:

  • mantled howler monkeys;
  • forest fragmentation;
  • fruit biomass;
  • ranging behavior;
  • feeding behavior;
  • big trees;
  • activity pattern

Abstract

The threat that forest fragmentation and habitat loss presents for several Alouatta taxa requires us to determine the key elements that may promote the persistence of howler monkeys in forest fragments and to evaluate how changes in the availability of these elements may affect their future conservation prospects. In this study we analyzed the relationship between the availability of both big trees of top food taxa (BTTFT) (diameter at breast height>60) and fruit of top food taxa (FrTFT) in the home ranges of two groups of Alouatta palliata mexicana occupying different forest fragments in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, and their diet and activity pattern. Both study groups preferred big trees for feeding and the group with lower availability of BTTFT in their home range fed from more, smaller food sources. Furthermore, both study groups also increased the number of food sources when their consumption of fruit decreased, and the group with lower availability of FrTFT in their home range fed from more food sources. The increase in the number of food sources used under such conditions, in turn, set up a process of higher foraging effort and lower rest. In summary, our results support other studies that suggest that the availability of big trees and fruit may be two important elements influencing the persistence of howler monkeys in forest fragments. Am. J. Primatol. 71:654–662, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.