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Keywords:

  • Cercopithecus;
  • Lophocebus;
  • Procolobus;
  • Colobus;
  • Pan;
  • Uvariopsis;
  • Celtis;
  • Ficus;
  • conservation;
  • frugivory;
  • abundance;
  • sensitivity;
  • logging;
  • rarity

Abstract

Almost half of the world's extant primate species are of conservation concern [IUCN, International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, 2008]. Primates are also effective seed dispersers. The implications of and interactions between these two facts are increasingly understood, and data demonstrating the consequences of losing primates for forest ecology are now available from throughout the tropics. However, a reality is that not all species—and the mutualisms among them—can be protected. Conservation managers must make difficult decisions and use shortcuts in the implementation of conservation tactics. Using taxa as “umbrellas” is one such shortcut, although a lack of an operational definition of what an umbrella species is and how to choose one has made implementing this tactic difficult. In this study, I discuss primates as umbrellas by defining a selection index in terms of richness/co-occurrence, rarity, and sensitivity to anthropogenic disturbance. I evaluate the anthropoid assemblage of Kibale National Park, Uganda, in light of the selection index and determine that Cercopithecus is the genus best fitting the criteria for umbrella status. I then evaluate the functional significance—in terms of seed dispersal—of using Cercopithecus monkeys (guenons) as umbrellas. Results from 1,047 hr of observation of focal fruiting trees in Kibale indicate that Cercopithecus ascanius was the most commonly observed frugivore visitor (July 2001–June 2002). These data corroborate earlier data collected in Kibale demonstrating that guenons are highly effective seed dispersers. Patterns of richness/co-occurrence, rarity, and sensitivity observed in Kibale are reflected in Afrotropical forests more generally, with the genus Cercopithecus tending to exhibit greatest richness/co-occurrence with taxonomically similar species, to be neither extremely rare nor ubiquitous, and also to be moderately sensitive to human disturbance. Moreover, in all available evaluations of frugivory in Afrotropical forests, guenons emerge as among the most important seed dispersers relative to other taxa. Am. J. Primatol. 73:9–24, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.