Monkey Forest Tales: Why is important to include some kind of biodiversity monitoring in long-term primate projects

In today’s post we are going to talk about why is important to include some kind of biodiversity monitoring in long-term primate projects, understanding long- term as projects with a duration of more than 3 years.
When I started Zocay Project my main goal was to calculate monkeys densities, basically counting each monkey species that I found in each fragment, for a 6 months period. But when the project expanded and because I was teach to register basically everything I saw, my database have information about other mammals apart from monkeys as well as some big birds.
Biodiversity monitoring is an important part of biological science; however, it is debated to what extent you should do monitoring and when to start doing mitigation or conservation actions. The answer to this is not always the same. In animals with long life spans such as primates monitoring can implies several decades. In some areas where census are done for primates, it is also common during those census to find other mammals and big birds like guans. So long term primate projects have the potential to also serve as biodiversity monitoring projects where general patterns of other species ocurrence can be detected and used to understand the functioning of the habitats in which those monkeys are living and the quality of those habitats. As well as the effects on some general conservation actions done at the beginning of those long term primate projects.
For our study area one of those patterns had been the use of regenerated areas in front of the farm house by monkeys and other mammals such squirrels and coaties. As well as the return of the colombian chachalaca to some of the farm forest fragments. This monitoring didn’t represent more finantial expenses for Zocay project and it is providing more support about the benefits to this fragmented areas of mitigation actions we implemented over 15 years ago. Therefore is and important aspect to consider while you are looking at monkey’s population trends in your study areas.
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Monkey Forest Tales: How to evaluate threats for primates living close to humans? Some challenges

When working with primates in close proximity to humans, you constantly saw conflict and animals getting kill due to human activities. How to measure those threats when the observations are rare, and data is difficult to get requires that you combine methods and work in close proximity with local people. In today’s post we are going to talk about the challenges of evaluating threats for primates living close to humans.

Probably the first and more challenging part is to detect those threats, unless it is evident that roads are close to forest or that electric cables are close to forest fragments, observations of primate’s deaths by electrocution and car collisions are difficult to quantify. Unless you combine direct observations with surveys in which people report those events. A combination of different data sources is usually the most productive way to understand how primates, and in general other native fauna, are impacted by human activities such as electrocutions and car collisions. 

Working with local people had its own challenges in terms of language use and techniques to make right questions and get comprehensive information about rare events. Additional spatial information obtained from satellite images and land cover map can add important understanding on possible solutions and places where can be more effective to implement mitigation actions such a canopy bridges and other artificial structures that helps safe animal movements in highly transformed landscape. However, we still need to be aware of challenges in information interpretation and learn tools of conflict negotiation to reach agreement with local people on those areas uses.

An additional challenge is how to improve electricity companies’ installation of safe cables as well as how to educate drivers to reduce speed at critical fauna crossing as a complement to infrastructure (canopy bridges or fauna overpass) for fauna crossing on rails and roads. Although there isn’t a unique way to evaluate primate’s threats in human transformed landscapes, an open mind and collaboration with other disciplines can improve our understanding to get better solutions. A lesson we are still learning at Zocay Project…

 © 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