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Effects of habitat structure and fragmentation on diversity and abundance of primates in tropical deciduous forests in Bolivia


Büntge,  Anna B. S.
Department Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Pyritz, L. W., Büntge, A. B. S., Herzog, S. K., & Kessler, M. (2010). Effects of habitat structure and fragmentation on diversity and abundance of primates in tropical deciduous forests in Bolivia. International Journal of Primatology, 31(5), 796-812. doi:10.1007/s10764-010-9429-z.

Habitat structure and anthropogenic disturbance are known to affect primate diversity and abundance. However, researchers have focused on lowland rain forests, whereas endangered deciduous forests have been neglected. We aimed to investigate the relationships between primate diversity and abundance and habitat parameters in 10 deciduous forest fragments southeast of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We obtained primate data via line-transect surveys and visual and acoustic observations. In addition, we assessed the vegetation structure (canopy height, understory density), size, isolation time, and surrounding forest area of the fragments. We interpreted our results in the context of the historical distribution data for primates in the area before fragmentation and interviews with local people. We detected 5 of the 8 historically observed primate species: Alouatta caraya, Aotus azarae boliviensis, Callithrix melanura, Callicebus donacophilus, and Cebus libidinosus juruanus. Total species number and detection rates decreased with understory density. Detection rates also negatively correlated with forest areas in the surroundings of a fragment, which may be due to variables not assessed, i.e., fragment shape, distance to nearest town. Observations for Alouatta and Aotus were too few to conduct further statistics. Cebus and Callicebus were present in 90% and 70% of the sites, respectively, and their density did not correlate with any of the habitat variables assessed, signaling high ecological plasticity and adaptability to anthropogenic impact in these species. Detections of Callithrix were higher in areas with low forest strata. Our study provides baseline data for future fragmentation studies in Neotropical dry deciduous forests and sets a base for specific conservation measures.