Monkey Forest Tales: What we have learned about Dusky titi monkeys over the past 15 years?

dscn0034.jpg

This is the third post of a series in which the findings of this project are presented. In this post, the findings for the Dusky titi monkeys are described. Dusky titi monkeys are another of the smallest primate species inhabiting the study area.

Dusty titi monkeys are a charismatic and endemic species that can only be found in Meta department (state) of Colombia. They can be found in the piedmont of the Colombian Llanos. However, the eastern part of their distribution seems to not go further to the Upia river (Defler 2010). Its populations are declining due a reduction and fragmentation of their habitat (Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2016). Therefore, it is considered a vulnerable species that need to be protected to avoid extinction.

They can live in fragments of gallery forest, lowland forest and swamp forest (forest patches composed mainly of Mauritia flexuosa with soils of a high-water table; Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2018). In continuous areas, they are commonly found near to the stream and river edges in higher densities, while in fragmented areas higher densities can be found in forest fragments edges and small fragments (Defler & Carretero-Pinzón 2019).

Where do you find them and how many groups of them you will find depending on the amount of forest there are in the landscape. How many fruit trees influence how many groups of these fluffy and quite small monkeys you can find in fragmented landscape (Carretero-Pinzon et al. 2017).

Living fences, fences made from a line of native trees used by local farmers to divide their pastures as well as small forest fragments (< 10 ha) in the middle of pastures are important sources of food, especially fruits and are used as part of home ranges (territories; Carretero-Pinzon et al 2010). Some of those small fragments (< 5 ha) seem to be used for dispersing individuals and as an initial home range for newly formed groups in fragmented landscapes (Carretero-Pinzon unpublished data). Therefore, these landscape structures help them to survive in highly fragmented landscapes such as agricultural and urban landscapes.

Dispersion distance in fragmented landscapes is up to 3 m through wire fences, living fences, and pastures (Carretero-Pinzon unpublished data). Mainly early morning hours and late afternoon hours are used for dispersion between forest fragments. Although is possible to encounter them dispersing on pastures and using living fences at noon in some areas (Carretero-Pinzon unpublished data).

We have limited information about their diet that is mainly composed of arthropods, fruits, flowers and leaves (Ospina 2006; Quintero 2017). They consume mainly fruits from the understory and canopy of the forest (Ospina 2006; Quintero 2017). Similar to the Colombian squirrel monkeys they use pioneer plants for fruits in the forest edges (Ospina 2006; Quintero 2017).

Dusty titi monkeys live in family groups with a male, a female, and their offspring. Babies born during December and January with babies been carried by the males mainly until their third month (Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2016).

References

Carretero-Pinzon X., Defler TR. 2018. Primates and flooded forest in the Colombian Llanos. En: Barnett AA, Matsuda I, Nowak K (eds) Primates in flooded habitats: ecology and conservation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Carretero-Pinzon X., Defler TR. 2016. Callicebus ornatus, an endemic Colombian species: Demography, Behavior and Conservation. En: Ruíz-García M, Shostell J.M. (eds). Phylogeny, molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and Conservation of the Neotropical Primates. Nova Science Publisher Inc., New York, USA. ID book: 5975

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler & M. Ruíz-García. 2010. Uso de cercas vivas como corredores biológicos por primates en los Llanos Orientales. In: Primatología en Colombia: avances al principio del milenio. Pereira-Bengoa, V., Stevenson P.R., Bueno M.L. & F. Nassar-Montoya. Fundación Universitaria San Martín. Bogotá, Colombia.

Defler, T.R. 2010. Historia natural de los primates Colombianos. Conservacion internacional. Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Facultad de Ciencias.

Defler TR., Carretero-Pinzon X. 2019. Edge habitat preferences in three titi monkey species in Colombia (Cheracebus lugens, Cheracebus torquatus lucifer y Plecturocebus ornatus). Neotropical Primates 24(2): 64-71.

Ospina M.J. 2006. Comparación de los Patrones Comportamentales de Callicebus cupreus ornatus Durante dos Épocas Estacionales en un Fragmento de Bosque de Galería, en San Martín, (Meta). Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia.

Quintero, O.Y. 2017. Variaciones comportamentales y de dieta de dos grupos de plecturocebus ornatus (mammalia: primates) en paisajes con diferentes grados de fragmentación en San Martín, Meta, Colombia. Universidad del Cauca. Popayan, Colombia.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.

 

Monkey Forest Tales: What we have learned about Colombian squirrel monkeys over the past 15 years?

DSCN0167

This is the second post of a series in which the findings of this project are presented. In this post, the findings for the Colombian squirrel monkeys are described. Colombian squirrel monkeys are one of the smallest primate species inhabiting the study area.

Most of the time when people see this species in continuous or fragmented areas, they have the impression that there are too many of them. The reality is that because these species live in bigger groups, it looks like there are many but it’s usually just one big group. This has led to the idea that there are common and not in danger of being extinct. However, their numbers are declining, and their habitat has been reduced and fragmented and this affects its survivorship. This is the reason why they are classified as near threatened (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2009, 2013).

Where do you find them and how many of them you will find depending on the amount of forest there are in the landscape. How many fruit trees and how high the forest canopy is, as well as the presence of living fences influence how many of these agile and sometimes noisy small monkeys you can find in fragmented landscapes (Carretero-Pinzon et al. 2017).

The fences made from a line of native trees used by local farmers to divide their pastures (living fences) as well as those trees find standing alone or in small groups in the middle of pastures are important sources of food, especially fruits. Also, living fences are used as part of home ranges (territories), using them to eat fruit, arthropods and to get access to flooded forest fragments in search of small frogs (Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2018). They use living fences with variable height and also wire fences without any tree cover during their daily movements as well as when dispersing (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2010).

In fragmented landscapes areas where living fences and isolated trees are common usually support bigger groups (> 25 individuals; Carretero-Pinzon et al 2010). These landscape structures help them to survive in highly fragmented landscapes such as agricultural and urban landscapes. They can live in fragments of gallery forest, lowland forest and swamp forest (forest patches composed mainly of Mauritia flexuosa; Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2018).

As I mentioned in another post, they live in big groups formed by several males, females and their offspring. But in fragmented areas group sizes are smaller than in continuous areas, with groups commonly having between 15 – 43 individuals (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2016). Most groups in continuous areas are of more than 50 individuals. Groups usually have several females (<6 in fragmented areas and > 8 in continuous areas), a couple of males (< 5 in fragmented areas and >6 in continuous areas, Carretero-Pinzon, unpublished data).

Also, in fragmented areas is common that you find subgroups of the same group eating and moving for just a few hours or up to two days apart, especially, in the months in which the fruit offer is reduced in the forest fragments. In continuous are on the contrary subdivision of groups is less common and n some areas is possible to see more than one group of squirrel monkeys eating and moving together (Carretero-Pinzon personal observations). Group territories (home ranges) in fragmented areas don’t overlap very often, while in continuous areas the overlapping can be of almost 50 % of their home ranges (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2016). In both cases there is not evidence of defense of territories and when two groups encounter there is not display of aggression associated with this defense (Carretero-Pinzon personal observations).

In continuous areas (big extensions of a forest), it is common to find solitary males and bachelor groups of only males that are also common in fragmented landscapes. It is also possible to find solitary males using small fragments (< 10 ha) as permanent home ranges for several years and making associations with groups of red howler monkeys. We are not sure if those males are old males just living their last years alone or if they are just dispersing males. However, we know of at least one solitary male who spends at least three years living in a small fragment (4 ha) for three years and then disappears from that fragment (Carretero-Pinzon unpublished data).

Colombian squirrel monkeys in the fragmented areas eat arthropods, fruits, and flowers, in more quantity than in continuous areas but always consuming more arthropods than fruits in both (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2016). The plant species they eat fruits vary in fragmented landscapes where more pioneer plants are used. These are plant species that grow faster and require more light to grow and are easily found in forest fragment edges (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2016).

Mixed troop formations with black-capped capuchins (Sapajus apella) are less frequent in fragmented landscapes compared with continuous areas as I mentioned in a previous post.

References

Carretero-Pinzon X., Defler TR. 2018. Primates and flooded forest in the Colombian Llanos. En: Barnett AA, Matsuda I, Nowak K (eds) Primates in flooded habitats: ecology and conservation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler, C.A. McAlpine & J.R. Rhodes. 2017. The influence of landscape relative to site and patch variables on primates distribution in Colombian Llanos. Landscape Ecology 32: 883-896.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler & M. Ruíz-García. 2016. How does the Colombian squirrel monkey cope with habitat fragmentation? Strategies to survive in small fragments. En: Ruíz-García M, Shostell J.M. (eds). Phylogeny, molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and Conservation of the Neotropical Primates. Nova Science Publisher Inc., New Yoork, USA. ID book 5975

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler & M. Ruíz-García. 2013. Conservation Status of Saimiri sciureus albigena, an endemic subspecies of squirrel monkeys. In: Especies de Primates Colombianos en Peligro de Extinción. Defler, T.R., Stevenson, P.R., Bueno M.L. & D.C. Guzman.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler & M. Ruíz-García. 2010. Uso de cercas vivas como corredores biológicos por primates en los Llanos Orientales. In: Primatología en Colombia: avances al principio del milenio. Pereira-Bengoa, V., Stevenson P.R., Bueno M.L. & F. Nassar-Montoya. Fundación Universitaria San Martín. Bogotá, Colombia.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., M. Ruíz-García & T.R. Defler. 2009. The Taxonomy and Conservation Status of Saimiri sciureus albigena: a squirrel monkey endemic to Colombia. Primate Conservation 24: 1 – 6.

DSCN7638

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.

Monkey Forest Tales: What have we learned about primate community and biodiversity over the past 15 years?

Today I start a series of six posts in which a summary of all the findings of this project is presented. In this first post, some of the findings related to the primate community and biodiversity of the study area, in general, are presented. The following five posts will present the specific findings related to each of the primate species studied in this project for the past 15 years.

As you may notice from the information on this website, the study area have a primate community composed of five species: red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus), black-capped capuchins (Sapajus apella), Colombian squirrel monkeys (Saimiri cassiquiarensis albigena), dusky titi monkey (Plecturocebus ornatus) and Brumback night monkey (Aotus brumbacki). Additionally, in the area is possible to see deer (Odocoileus virginianus), giant ant eaters (Myrmecophaga trydactila), river otters (Lontra longicaudis), armadillos (most commonly found Dasypus novemcinctus), squirrels (Sciureus granatensis), tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla), coatis (Nasua nasua), opossums (Didelphis marsupialis), hedgehogs (Coendu prehensil), tayras (Eira barbara) small felids and a wide variety of birds. Towards the east of the study area and inside of the bigger forest fragments tapirs (Tapirus terrestris), peccaries (Tayassu tajaccu), capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), at least three species of deer (Mazama gouazoubira, Mazama americana and Odocoileus virginianus), jaguar (Panthera onca) and cougars (Puma concolor) can also be found.

The most common primate species in the area are the red howler monkeys and the black-capped capuchins (Carretero-Pinzón et al. 2017). Although, in general, the primate community is composed of the five primate species mentioned above, all the big primate species (woolly monkeys (Lagothrix spp.) and spider monkeys (Ateles spp.)) has been extirpated from the area for more than 100 years according to local people and are found now only towards the Macarena and Tinigua National Parks, southeast of the study area.

For all primate species, the presence of the species in a forest fragment depends on the amount of forest surrounding a specific fragment (Carretero-Pinzón et al. 2017). Small fragments (less than 10 ha) are used mostly as a stop when primates species are dispersing between fragments in the study area. Except for red howler monkeys, who can live in these small fragments permanently.

The presence of living fences as well as isolated trees increases primate species movements between forest fragments. Living fences are used by all primate species not only for dispersion but also as part of their home ranges with the use of the living fences in a seasonal pattern to get access to additional fruit trees, arthropods and to get access to flooded forest fragments (Carretero-Pinzón et al 2010; Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2018). Living fences are also used by tamandua, armadillos, squirrels, hedgehogs, coatis, snakes and a wide number of birds.

When forced all primate species in the study area can cross large extensions of pastures, with a recorded distance of up to 4 km for red howler monkeys and 3 km for dusky titi monkeys (Personal and local people observations). Giant anteaters are common on pastures and crossing secondary and tertiary roads in the study area in early morning hours or late in the afternoons. Occasional observations of white-lipped peccary herds in the eastern part of the study area had been reported by local people. The last report of a herd near to San Martin town by a local farmer was nearly ten years ago.

Small fragments (< 10 ha) are used as a temporal home of coati groups, who use fragments of different sizes and move through pastures and living fences. Other mammals, such as giant anteaters, deer, armadillos, hedgehog, opossum use these small fragments as a permanent home range. Farms in which we had observed more mammals are the ones with more living fences, isolated trees and small fragments (< 10 ha). All five primate species can live in fragments of gallery forest, lowland forest and swamp forest (forest patches composed mainly of Mauritia flexuosa; Carretero-Pinzon & Defler 2018).

Over the past 15 years, in some of the fragments that were fenced to reduce the cattle use of forest fragments, we have observed the regeneration of the underground vegetation. Also, in those fenced forest fragments we observed the return of coatis, squirrels, and guans, these animals were not observed during the first years of this project. An emergent problem for the biodiversity of the area is the increment of feral and domestic dogs in the area that hunts in groups inside the forest fragments.

References

Carretero-Pinzon X., Defler TR. 2018. Primates and flooded forest in the Colombian Llanos. En: Barnett AA, Matsuda I, Nowak K (eds) Primates in flooded habitats: ecology and conservation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler, C.A. McAlpine & J.R. Rhodes. 2017. The influence of landscape relative to site and patch variables on primates distribution in Colombian Llanos. Landscape Ecology 32: 883-896.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., T.R. Defler & M. Ruíz-García. 2010. Uso de cercas vivas como corredores biológicos por primates en los Llanos Orientales. In: Primatología en Colombia: avances al principio del milenio. Pereira-Bengoa, V., Stevenson P.R., Bueno M.L. & F. Nassar-Montoya. Fundación Universitaria San Martín. Bogotá, Colombia.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All picture used in this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message in the website. Thank you.

 

Monkey Forest Tales: How climate had change in the area? And other related questions

DSCN0159

Dry season pod in February 2019.

Towards the end of February, 2019 we spend some days at the study area as we usually do, from time to time. However, this year I was specially surprise about the weather changes observed during this dry season. In the study area there is two main seasons: a dry season (usually from December – March) and a wet season (April – November). Usually on dry season the small stream that cross some of the forest fragments where we observe the monkeys dry out during some weeks between January and February, but not completely. You can find a couple of small pods in certain parts of the forest and near to the farmhouse. However, in 2019 only one of the permanent pods was still present. It wasn’t a properly pod, it was looking more like a muddy spot surrounded by dry sand from the dry stream bed.

In past years, specially 2005 we had seen the stream dried a lot, but those pods usually remains, and you could see birds as well as cattle and horses drinking there, not this year. But why this year the pods dried that much?

In past years, 2013 and 2014 there was a boom of petrol exploitation in the area. Seismic surveys were done near to almost all streams in the area in search of petrol. Although most of the people in town and cattle ranchers were mainly happy, some wasn’t. I remember specially a guy from one of farms we visited in 2014, who was complaining that he wasn’t agree with that, he had seen how after the petrol company finished their explorations in an area, all the streams were dry, it seems a family member of his had lost his land because it became so dried that nothing growth there. Can this be what is happening in this area now?

The area had a good phreatic level and is usual that most farms have their own well, even in the town houses. But this year even the small river crossing the town dried more than years before. And it’s not only about how dry all those streams were this year it was also about how much this year dry season lasted.

For the first time in 15 years, the rainy season properly started in May not April, as usual. In past years by the time Easter arrives, the stream near to the farmhouse usually had a lot of water and even some years it flood over the stream bank almost to the house. However, this year wasn’t even close to the stream bank. Some scarce rains had fallen towards the end of April but not enough to make the stream rise.

Can be this part of what climate change will produce in this area? If yes, farmers need to start adapting as this long dry season have a strong impact on their meat production and even the survivorship of their livestock.

Additional to this, what will be the effect on the forest fragment fruit production? that had its higher peak in this area in April. Although we found several trees producing fruits during our visit in May, it doesn’t seem as high as it was on other years, although we don’t have number to test this. How these changes will affect the primates on these forest fragments? and what can we do to mitigate these effects? Those are some of the questions that start rising now that changes in precipitation patterns are starting to arise. More detailed monitoring of precipitation patterns and even temperature changes are probably need it to see if new weather trend are emerging in this area and how humans and wildlife can adapt to those changes.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All picture used in this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message in the website. Thank you.

Sai Xyo 002 (2)

Farm stream flooded in Easter 2006.