, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 175-189

Density compensation in neotropical primate communities: evidence from 56 hunted and nonhunted Amazonian forests of varying productivity

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Abstract 

Density compensation is a community-level phenomenon in which increases in the abundance of some species may offset the population decline, extirpation, or absence of other potentially interacting competitors. In this paper we examine the evidence for density compensation in neotropical primate assemblages using data from 56 hunted and nonhunted, but otherwise undisturbed, forest sites of Amazonia and the Guianan shields from which population density estimates are available for all diurnal primate species. We found good evidence of density compensation of the residual assemblage of nonhunted mid-sized species where the large-bodied (ateline) species had been severely reduced in numbers or driven to local extinction by subsistence hunters. Only weak evidence for density compensation, however, was detected in small-bodied species. These conclusions are based on the effects of ordinal measures of hunting pressure on the aggregate primate biomass across different size classes after controlling for the effects of forest type and productivity. These results are interpreted primarily in relation to patterns of niche partitioning between different primate functional groups or ecospecies. This study suggests that while overhunting drastically reduces the average body size in multi-species assemblages of forest vertebrates, depletion of large-bodied species is only partially offset (i.e. undercompensated) by smaller taxa.

Received: 2 November 1998 / Accepted: 8 September 1999