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Keywords:

  • Alouatta pigra;
  • diet;
  • food supply;
  • forest structure;
  • howler monkeys;
  • hurricane

ABSTRACT

Hurricanes frequently affect the forests of South and Central America; however, few studies have quantified their effects to forest structure, especially when concentrating on the food supply of an animal population. Hurricane Iris made landfall in Southern Belize on 8 October 2001, severely damaging a 52 hectare site where the behavioral ecology of a population of Central American Black Howlers (Alouatta pigra) had been under study for 2.5 yr. The hurricane resulted in a mortality rate of 35 percent for major food trees, which was primarily attributed to uprooting, snapping, and major delimbing. This damage accounted for 97 percent of the food tree loss between the two sample periods. Tree species differences were found in both the percentage loss and category of damage to food trees. Trees of different heights also experienced different percentage loss and levels of damage; subcanopy and emergent trees experienced higher loss than canopy trees, and subcanopy trees were frequently uprooted. This was partially attributed to a lack of buttressing on these subcanopy trees. Buttressing was found to decrease the frequency of uprooting. Tree size was the only factor that did not influence either damage or death. Trees from which fruit were eaten by black howlers died more than twice as often as did trees eaten for leaves.