Monkey Forest Tales: About people in the area: how this project has impacted people perceptions over time – Part 1

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In this post and the following posts, I will share the stories of two families and how this project had changed their perceptions of monkeys and fauna in general. The first story is about a mother and her daughter (names had changed to protect people in this story).

When I first arrived in 2004, I visit several farms around the one I was looking for monkeys. In one of those farms, I met Maria and her daughter Sonia. Maria didn’t like monkeys at all, especially black-capped capuchins. They used to go inside of her kitchen and steal food, especially chicken eggs. The house was just a couple of meters from the forest fragment and the capuchins crossed almost every single day. The farm also had extractive practices, selective logging on a small scale (just for the farm use and from time to time some big trees for sell). Hunting was allowed.

Maria’s daughter, Sonia, studied in the town but visit her mom from time to time and liked animals, she was 14 years when I first met her. Sonia started to go to the forest with me during her holidays and started to make a lot of questions about the monkeys, how they live and what they eat. She seems to enjoy going to the forest to observe the monkeys as well as the stories I tell her about the monkeys. She also enjoys birds and takes care of any wild animal that seems to be in trouble.

Over the years we all became close friends and I saw how Sonia became a mom of two. Although Sonia wasn’t able to study biology or anything related to animals, her concern and love for animals continue. A few months ago, I visit her again in her new home and I was surprised by how she had taught that same care and concern about nature to her own kids.

Maria’s behavior towards monkeys also changed over the years, although she now lives in town instead of on a farm, she always has some news to tell me about monkeys close to the town and she even joins me when I did some walks near to the town searching for monkeys. Her change had also led her to talk to her neighbors and husband about protecting animals in general and how that is beneficial for humans. Hearing her and Sonia gives me and this project motivation to continue. It’s not common that you can see how the love you have taught about animals pass from one generation to the next and how you really change people thinking through your work.

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Monkey Forest Tales: Notes about retuning fauna after regeneration

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One of the advantages you get from a long-term project in the same study area for more than a decade is that you can start observing if some of the actions you help to implement have some kind of benefits for the fauna and flora of the area. This post is about those anecdotic but important observations that surprise you when you visit an area for a long time.

It’s not only those observations of large capuchin monkey groups I mentioned in past posts (Monkey Forest Tales: Why black-capped capuchins move in big groups (> 10 individuals) in very fragmented areas?). It is also about the changes that we have observed after the landowners decided to fence the forest and set aside an area around the stream in front of the farmhouse.

When I first visit SR farm in 2004, near to the stream in front of the house, there were only two big Ceibas and a few other sparse trees. Nothing was blocking your sight from the pastures at the other side of the stream. However, in 2005, by suggestions of some students and colleagues, the landowners fenced the area and we plant some fruit trees. We planted fruit trees of species that we know monkeys used as food trees in a nearby forest fragment. The area set aside is not more than 1000 m2. The area was left alone so natural regeneration could occur.

After 14 years of natural regeneration and some initial planting, you can’t see the pastures at the other side of the stream from the farmhouse. Birds, monkeys and other small mammals had started to use it. And this also had generated a change in the animals observed in the last three years, in the forest fragments nearby.

Common guan pair’s, solitary and small groups of coatis as well as squirrels had been observed in forest fragments than 14 years ago didn’t visit. They never were extinct from the area but now they are more common and easy to see in forest fragments where they weren’t seen before.

It’s possible that not only the regenerating areas but also the decision of the landowners of let vegetation grow in wire fences as well as planting some living fences and their change from allowing hunting in their farms to ban it has allowed these species to come back.

In forest fragments present in other farms, where we had made few surveys, and which had secondary forest from different ages (10 – 30 years of regeneration), we had observed different mammal species using them. It seems the first ones to use these natural regenerating areas are small rodents, crab-eating foxes, giant anteaters and small birds who used open areas widely. In regenerating areas of 10 years you can also see black-capped capuchins and squirrel monkeys from time to time and it seems that some new form groups of dusky titi monkeys also use these areas as part of their home ranges. Howler monkeys seem to use these areas only after 15 – 20 years when bigger trees are present.

A new threat is emerging in the last two years, threatening the biodiversity in the area. Some of the farm dogs started to roam inside of the forest fragments and an increase of feral dogs had been observed by students and local workers. We had an increase in the number of domestic dog’s attacks on monkeys and other fauna. This new threat is something we need to start evaluating so we can give farmers in the area more tools to preserve the biodiversity they still have in their land.

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

Aotus brumbacki (Colombian Llanos) Nest

This is the sixth and last post of a series in which the findings of this project are presented. In this post, the findings for the Brumback night monkeys are described. These monkeys are small size and the only nocturnal species in the study area. It is also the less studied species in this project.

We found them living in swamp, gallery and lowland forest and there are local people reports of individuals and groups in orchards too (Carretero-Pinzón & Defler 2008). They can use small forest fragments (< 5 ha) as home ranges for a few months while dispersing and probably while stablishing newly formed groups (Carretero-Pinzón personal observations).

They use living fences as part of their home ranges and for dispersion between forest fragment in highly fragmented landscapes (Carretero-Pinzón et al 2010). Solitary individuals have been observed eating and moving in living fences.

Brumback night monkey groups in the area, are usually of three individuals and up to 5 individuals (Carretero-Pinzón 2013). Densities of this species are higher in small fragments that in bigger fragments (Carretero-Pinzón 2013).

We had observed this species eating pioneer plants in the forest fragment edges, as well as arthropods (Vargas 2011). These monkeys use dead palms, palms of Moriche and Unamas and tall vines as dormitories in fragmented areas (Carretero-Pinzón personal observations). One study in the area identifies 10 vocalizations associated with activities made by a group of Brumback night monkeys (Vargas 2011).

This species is part of our new efforts as is one endemic Colombian primate species of which not much information is available.

References

Carretero-Pinzón, X. 2013. An eight-year life history of a primate community in fragments at Colombian Llanos. In: Primates in Fragments: Complexity and resilience, Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects. Marsh, L.K. & C.A. Chapman (Eds). Springer Science+Business Media, New york.

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 & 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., Defler, T.R. & S. Ferrari. 2008. Wild Black Capped capuchins (Cebus apella) feeding on a night monkey (Aotus brumbacki) in eastern Colombian Llanos. Neotropical Primates 15 (2): 62 – 63.

Vargas, M. 2011. Vocalizaciones de Aotus brumbackii (Hershkovitz, 1983) y su relación con las actividades en la vida silvestre, San Martín (Meta, Colombia). Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia.

Aotus brumbackii- Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón

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Monkey Forest Tales: What we have learned about black-capped capuchins over the past 15 years?

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This is the fifth post of a series in which the findings of this project are presented. In this post, the findings for the black-capped capuchins are described. Black-capped capuchins are the second most common primate in the study area. These monkeys are medium size and very intelligent primates inhabiting the study area.

Where do you find and how many black-capped capuchins you find in a landscape depends both on how tall the forest is and how many fruit trees you can find in a forest fragment. Where to find them also depends on the type of cover surrounding that specific forest (crops and plantations or pastures). Additionally, in fragmented landscapes where no living fences or fewer forest fragments are present will have less black-caped capuchins (Carretero-Pinzón et al 2017).

 

Although group sizes of black-capped capuchins in fragmented landscapes are similar to groups in continuous areas. In the fragmented landscape, we had found bigger groups (> 20 individuals, usually more than 2 groups), which seems to be seasonal. Mostly had been observed in the study area in June, rainy season, although we still don’t know the reason (Carretero-Pinzón et al unpublished data).

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). Black-capped capuchins are more commonly found in the rural landscape than urban landscapes in the Colombian Llanos. This can be related with their intelligence and ability to enter houses and steal food. In rural landscapes this primate species is sometimes considered a pest. In the study area we know they can crop-ride maize, oil palm, orange, watermelon and enters to local gardens to steal fruits such as bananas, papayas and soursop (Carretero-Pinzón personal observations, local people reports).

Black-capped capuchins use living fences as part of their home ranges, suing them to get access to other forest fragments and to find fruit and arthropods. Most of the living fences they use are more than 10 m height, although they can use wire fences without any tree cover to disperse and move from one fragment to another (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2010).

Occasionally, stablished groups spend several days in small forest fragments (< 5 ha) using fruit trees and then return to the forest fragments they usually live in. This pattern seems to be seasonal and seems to be more common during the rainy season when some small forest fragment flood (Carretero-Pinzón personal observations).

Black-capped capuchins are opportunistic hunters of bird species in the study area, predating violaceous jay (Cyanocorax violaceus). They had also been observed in the area consuming a dead female of Brumback night monkeys (Carretero-Pinzón et al 2008). Domestic dogs, tayras (Eira barbara) and crested caracaras (Caracara cheriway) have been observed attacking young capuchins in wire and living fences in the study area (Carretero-Pinzón personal observations).

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 distrubution 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.

Carretero-Pinzón, X., Defler, T.R. & S. Ferrari. 2008. Wild Black Capped capuchins (Cebus apella) feeding on a night monkey (Aotus brumbacki) in eastern Colombian Llanos. Neotropical Primates 15 (2): 62 – 63.

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

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This is the fourth post of a series in which the findings of this project are presented. In this post, the findings for the red howler monkeys are described. Red howler monkeys are the biggest primate species inhabiting the study area. They are also the most common species present in the area.

Where do you find them depends on the number of forest patches the landscape has, this means that it is more possible you find groups of red howler monkeys in landscapes where there are a lot of forest patches of any size. How many red howler monkeys you find in a landscape depends on how tall the forest is and the form of the forest patch (Carretero-Pinzón et al 2017).

Red howler monkeys use living fences as part of their home ranges, suing them to get access to other forest fragments and to find fruit and leave sources. Most of the living fences used by red howler monkeys have trees of more than 10 m height (Carretero-Pinzon et al 2010).

Red howler monkeys can survive in small forest fragments (< 5 ha) using them as home range as well as stepping-stones during male’s dispersal (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data). We have seen males dispersing using pastures, wire and living fences, as well as passing secondary and tertiary roads (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data, local people reports). Sometimes they also use electricity poles and cords to move, which causes them electrocutions (Local people reports). Recorded dispersal distance in the area is up to 4 km (Local people reports).

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). Red howler monkeys can live in rural and urban landscapes in the Colombian Llanos.

Red howler groups spent more time moving in search of food in smaller fragments than groups living in bigger fragments (Escudero 2005). Red howler monkey tends to consume more fruits, young and mature leave in larger forest fragments compared with smaller fragments. In the study area, we had found that they consumed plant species that are different from the families they consumed in continuous areas (Escudero 2005). They have been observed using herbaceous plants in the pastures near to the forest fragment edges, up to 200 m from the edge, eating on the ground in open pastures (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data).

Red howler monkeys live in groups from 1 to 9 individuals in the study area, usually a couple of males and a few females and their offspring, similar to groups in continuous areas (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data). Solitary males had been observed in the study area in fragments of different sizes (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data).

Red howler monkeys had been observed covered by human bot fly in the fragmented and continuous area. In the study area, this external parasite seems to be more common in red howler groups living near to palm oil plantations (Carretero-Pinzón unpublished data).

Red howler monkeys are good seed dispersers and in the study area, they have been found to be highly selective. Seeds dispersed by this species is also different depending on the season in which the study is made. They are good disperser of fig species (Ficus spp.) in fragmented areas (Gaitan-Naranjo 2009). A comparison of the two main areas of this project found that in the area around the Unamas Natural Reserve red howler disperse more species than in the Santa Rosa area, this is related to the plant diversity found in those areas (Gaitan-Gomez 2017).

 

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 distrubition 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.

Escudero, S.P. 2005. Patrón de actividad, recorridos diarios y dieta de Alouatta seniculus en fragmentos de bosque de galería San Martín Meta. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia.

Gaitán-Gómez, D. 2017. Comparación del tamaño y la capacidad de germinación de semillas dispersadas por Alouatta seniculus en paisajes con diferentes grados de fragmentación, durante la época de lluvias en San Martín, Meta. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia.

Gaitán-Naranjo 2009. Dispersión de semillas por parte de Alouatta seniculus en fragmentos de bosque (San Martín, Meta). Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, 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.