Monkey Forest Tales: Importance of landscape perspective when studying primates in fragments

In today’s post we are going talk about why is so important to look and study the landscape when studying and working with monkeys in fragmented landscapes. Although there are a few excellent papers from pioneer researchers who promote the use of the landscape perspective when studying monkeys in fragments. There is still some resistance to incorporate those concepts in practice.

Over the past two decades, studies of monkeys in fragments had changed their focus from looking the monkeys living in fragment as populations living in isolated island to understand that monkeys use the landscapes around those fragments and that those elements in the landscape affect the survivorship and the use that monkeys give to each fragment in the area. However, methodologies and concepts used from other disciplines such as landscape ecology, remote sensing, and GIS has been only partially implemented in the study of primates in fragments. A pattern that is clearly different from other groups of animals such as birds, reptiles, and even other mammals.

The reason why is so important to look at the landscape surrounding those fragments in which our monkeys live is because those surroundings affect the way they see their environment. Aspect such as composition of the landscape, or what kind of uses (crops, plantations, houses, roads, pastures, etc.) are around fragments, as well as the spatial organization of those uses and the history of how those process occur are some of the factors that influence how monkeys respond in those fragmented landscapes.

Those same studies also recommend conserving the habitat that is available as forest fragments, including small ones (< 1 ha), living fences and isolated trees as part of the landscapes because those are structure used by monkey to move between fragments. Another mitigation actions that are widely recommended is to increase habitat, connect it and improve their quality as for some species what is inside of the forest fragments is as important as what you find around it. Lastly, another factor influencing presence and abundance of the species (how many animals of each species are present in a forest fragment) is the history of transformation and activities that occurs on the landscapes that are surrounding those forest fragments.

So, if you have a farm in which you have monkeys living in forest fragments, implement activities to reduce wood extraction, and cattle entrance as those affects forest quality. Also, as much as possible don’t reduce the amount of forest from the fragment you have and try to use living fences, isolated trees and systems such as silvopastoral and agroforestry practices that increase connectivity between forest fragments. Protect riparian forest and increase connectivity of those important areas as they also provide water for your property and animals as well as for wildlife.

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