Monkey Forest Tales: Friendship in monkeys

Merry Christmas!!!! We are celebrating Christmas today and around the world this day means different thing for many people from the Christian believes, but not for people from other religions who celebrate different things at different times during the year.
For most of us, it means family and friends. For those of us who have lived or live in a different country to the one where our family lives, Christmas became a celebration with our closest friends who became part of our extended families.
In today’s post we are going to talk about those friendship relations, but in monkeys. Monkeys like us make friends during their lives, especially in those species where multiple males and females live in the same group.
In those large groups friendship is important, it can help you to get food, partners, can also help you when conflicts with other group member arise. So same as in human societies, friendship is an important part of some monkeys species lives.
Some of those friendships arise from infancy when infants play with other infants in their group, they develop relationships with all their playmates and some of those relationships became a friendship for a long time, and in some case for their whole life.
In the case of males, some of those male friends leave their natal group together in search of new groups. And, those friendships can help them to overcome the alpha male in a new group and monopolize the females, giving them an advantage to reproduce.
In the case of females, those friendships can help them to get access to better food if you are friend with a dominant female. In some species those friends also help you to watch the infants during feeding and resting times.
Not all friends in monkeys are related, it means they are not necessarily family, but sometimes they are. And like in humans some of these friendships can be broken or deteriorate when new friendships are formed.
When conflict arise from food access or other reasons, those close friends also help you to overcome aggressions and sometimes to gain access to that food you were chased from.
So, friendship is another social skill that we share with primates (monkeys, prosimian and apes). A valuable skill that also help us go in live more cheerfully.
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Monkey Forest Tales: Let’s celebrate Monkey’s Day!

This week on December 14th, we celebrate Monkey’s Day. A day to create awareness, recognize their diversity and role in our and forest wellbeing. In today’s post we are going to talk about this day’s celebration.
Around the world people working with primates in general and specially those working with monkeys (all primates with tails from America, Asia and Africa) use this day to celebrate the diversity of this incredible group of animals with which we work on a daily basis at laboratories, reserves, rehabilitation centers and field in different regions.
We also use this day to create awareness about the threats they face like the illegal pet trade (if you want to know more about why they are not pets, see here), hunting for bushmeat, loss and fragmentation of their habitat as a result of different human activities (mining, agriculture, grazing, urbanizations, infrastructure constructions among others).
Monkeys are an important part of all the habitats in which they live. They disperse seeds (more here), transform their habitat (more here), and they also are preys and predators (more here and here). They help to maintain the forest and all the services that forest provide to us like clean water and clean air, a place to enjoy ourselves, home for pollinators that also helps us to grow our crops.
With this post, we celebrate the diversity of diets, families and behaviors of the five monkey species living in our study area. We celebrate their flexibility to adapt and survive in forest fragments surrounded by human activities. We also celebrate that until know the monkey’s populations we have been studied over more than a decade are stable and able to reproduce.
We also invite you to celebrate with us, so if you live, work or have been close to a monkey (not pets, only monkeys living in their natural habitats) send us a message to xcarretero@zocayproject.com telling us something interesting you have seen from those monkeys. We will choose some of those stories to post in this website to celebrate monkeys diversity during more days in 2021 (your name will be published next to your story, unless you prefer to remain anonymous). You can send us a message in English, Spanish or Portuguese and your message will be posted in the language you send your message and in English.
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Monkey Forest Tales: Did monkeys drink water?

In past days while talking with local people, someone ask me if monkeys drink water? So, in today’s post we are going to talk about that. The short answer is yes. However not all species go to streams, ponds or water reservoirs to drink water.
Most of the water monkeys use for their normal functioning came from the metabolic process, which means that water is extracted from the food they eat. But in some places and at some seasons some species also go to the ground and drink water from streams, ponds and even human water reservoirs or water reservoirs used by our domestic animals.
For example, during rainy season in the study are as well as in humid forest like the Amazon, red howler monkeys, black-capped capuchins and Colombian squirrel monkeys drink rainy water from branches and palm leaves. However, we have not seen them drinking water during the dry season from any of the water ponds remaining in the ground or from the cattle water reservoirs.
In dry forest howler monkeys and capuchins use to go to the ground and drink water from human made water reservoirs or small streams. At other parts monkeys have also seen drinking water from rivers or from house roofs in India.
During the dry season of 2019, some of the stream ponds that usually have water in dry months dried completely, leaving all of the wildlife present in the area without water except by the cattle water reservoirs. We don’t know if monkey have started to use these reservoirs too.
Therefore, with the increased change in precipitation in the area and the possibility of another long dry season during this end of year and the first months of 2021, we put some camera traps at some cattle water reservoirs in past weeks to monitor the use of this water sources for wildlife. Hopefully these cameras also give us some information about the use of these water reservoirs for monkeys during dry months.
We will keep you posted on what animals we found using cattle water reservoirs in our new camera traps monitoring…
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Monkey Forest Tales: Why some forest has more primates than others?

Over the years I have the opportunity to visit many forests in Colombia and around the world, some of them with many primate species and some without any primate species (like Eucalyptus forest in Australia). So, in today’s post we are going to talk about what make a forest to have more primates than others?

Presence of primates in a forest depends of many factors that goes from historical factors to factors related with the availability of resources (i.e. food, nests, partners) present in those forest. Let’s start with the historical factors…

If we talk in a long-time scale, several thousands of years, presence of primate in a forest depends on the origin of that primate and if that forest had the conditions for those primates species to have originated or dispersed to that forest in ancient years. But if we talk of historical factors but I a small time scale, several years or even a several decades, then presence of a particular primate species depends not only on the original conditions of the forest that allows that primate species to live there but also all the human activities, such as hunting and deforestation of that forest that also influence the presence of those primate species.

For a primate species to live in a forest conditions such as climate, presence of food resources (fruits, insects, nectar, leaves) from the species they like to eat, other individuals of the same species (i.e. potential partners) and potential places to nest need to be present.

Also, some forest has more monkeys species than other because the species living in that forest have different specializations. For example, some of them eat more insects and other eat more fruits, while other eat more leaves. Or some like to move more on the top of the big trees while other like to move closer to the ground or in the middle of the tree forest. Therefore, the food resources in the forest can be used by different species at different heights and that allows many species living in the same forest. Also come species are more active during the day while others prefer the night.

For example, in the study area there are five monkey species, but all of them doesn’t move all the time at the same height, also some of them eat more fruits like dusky titi monkeys, or more leaves like red howler monkeys, while others eat more insects and spiders like black-capped capuchins and Colombian squirrel monkeys. And, some other prefer to be active at night like the Brumback night monkeys.

Sometimes, especially in fragmented areas, monkeys didn’t find all the resources they need in a particular forest fragment, then they have to move to another fragment, so in fragmented areas or areas closer to where we live some forest had lost all or some of the monkeys species that used to live there because the food is not enough or because we had killed them until they disappear…

So, part of the questions we have in Zocay Project are related to understand why some forest fragments have all five monkey species present while others don’t. Up to know our results shows that its depends on how much food resources there is and how big the trees are, but also how many living fences and other forest fragments are nearby. However, these fragments are in continuous change because of our activities so many things can happen that influence which monkeys we can find and for how long living in a particular forest fragment…

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