Date: 03 Aug 2013

Primates of the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project: A History

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The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), located approximately 80 km north of Manaus, Brazil, is the longest-running study of forest fragmentation in the world. The BDFFP was created in 1979 and the first primate census occurred in 1980. Six primate species inhabit the study area: red howler (Alouatta macconnelli), black spider (Ateles paniscus), brown capuchin (Sapajus apella), northern bearded saki (Chiropotes satanas chiropotes), golden-faced saki (Pithecia chrysocephala), and golden-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas). The distribution of these six species throughout the forest fragments has varied during the past three decades with some species (i.e., howler monkeys) being more prevalent than others (i.e., spider monkeys), particularly in the smaller fragments. Researchers did not find primates in some of the 1-ha forest fragments prior to 2007. Here we present a history of primate research at the BDFFP, including findings from three decades of primate censuses and behavioral and ecological studies of several species in the forest fragments, the surrounding matrix, and the continuous forest. These primate studies have provided information on seed dispersal in forest fragments, parasite infections, use of the matrix, and changes in group size, activity budget, and diet of groups in the forest fragments. Many of the once-cleared pastures surrounded by continuous primary forest are now dominated by various stages of secondary growth. Unfortunately, deforestation continues in many areas of the continuous forest north of Manaus. We discuss the implications of these land-cover changes on the primate community and suggest avenues for future primate research at the BDFFP.