, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 163-192

Ecology of the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey: Demographic Variability and Habitat Stability

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Abstract

We examined the Zanzibar red colobus' (Procolobus kirkii) social structure and population dynamics in relation to the density, diversity and dispersion of food resources in ground-water forest and agricultural land, which we characterized in terms of red colobus food species density, diversity, basal area and dispersion. We used transect sampling and group follows to describe population dynamics and social systems. Two agricultural areas, SJF Shamba and Pete Village, had higher densities and more uniformly dispersed red colobus food tree species than those of the ground-water forest. Red colobus at these two sites had greater population densities and natality, and smaller home ranges than red colobus in the ground-water forest. However, these findings apply to a very small area of agricultural land (approximately 18 ha) that is contiguous with an area of the forest reserve having a high density of red colobus. It is not representative of agricultural areas elsewhere on Zanzibar which support much lower densities or no red colobus. Although agricultural areas contiguous with the forest reserve had high densities of red colobus, they appear to be very unstable. Within the agricultural areas, we observed higher intergroup variation in group size and composition, study groups that decreased dramatically in size and disappeared from the study site, significantly lower levels of juvenile recruitment, and red colobus food trees that exhibited definite signs of overbrowsing. This apparent instability in the subpopulation of red colobus utilizing agricultural systems probably reflects the lower basal area of food trees and the greater fragmentation of suitable habitat and floristic dynamics due to human activities in these areas. A fusion-fission social system occurred only in the ground-water forest subpopulation, which we hypothesize to be due to highly clumped food resources.