Why is a landscape perspective important in studies of primates?


  • Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
    • Correspondence to: Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez, Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), campus Morelia, Antigua Carretera a Patzcuaro No. 8701, Ex-Hacienda de San José de la Huerta, 58190 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. E-mail: victorarroyo_rodriguez@hotmail.com

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  • Lenore Fahrig

    1. Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
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With accelerated deforestation and fragmentation through the tropics, assessing the impact that landscape spatial changes may have on biodiversity is paramount, as this information is required to design and implement effective management and conservation plans. Primates are expected to be particularly dependent on the landscape context; yet, our understanding on this topic is limited as the majority of primate studies are at the local scale, meaning that landscape-scale inferences are not possible. To encourage primatologists to assess the impact of landscape changes on primates, and help future studies on the topic, we describe the meaning of a “landscape perspective” and evaluate important assumptions of using such a methodological approach. We also summarize a number of important, but unanswered, questions that can be addressed using a landscape-scale study design. For example, it is still unclear if habitat loss has larger consistent negative effects on primates than habitat fragmentation per se. Furthermore, interaction effects between habitat area and other landscape effects (e.g., fragmentation) are unknown for primates. We also do not know if primates are affected by synergistic interactions among factors at the landscape scale (e.g., habitat loss and diseases, habitat loss and climate change, hunting, and land-use change), or whether landscape complexity (or landscape heterogeneity) is important for primate conservation. Testing for patterns in the responses of primates to landscape change will facilitate the development of new guidelines and principles for improving primate conservation. Am. J. Primatol. 76:901–909, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.