, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 246–252 | Cite as

Survey of Alouatta caraya, the black-and-gold howler monkey, and Alouatta guariba clamitans, the brown howler monkey, in a contact zone, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: evidence for hybridization

  • Júlio César Bicca-Marques
  • Helissandra Mattjie Prates
  • Fernanda Rodrigues Cunha de Aguiar
  • Clara B. Jones
Original Article


Sympatry and natural hybridization between howler monkey taxa (Alouatta spp.) has only recently being confirmed in the wild. Surveys in areas of potential contact between the distribution of two taxa have shown that sympatry is rare, although more common than previously known. Here we report the results of a survey conducted in a contact zone between the only two sexually dichromatic howler monkey taxa, Alouatta caraya and A. guariba clamitans, in São Francisco de Assis, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Our survey, covering an area of about 400 ha at the Cerro dos Negros (29°33′50″–29°35′10″S, 54°58′40″–54°59′50″W; ~100–279 m a.s.l.), was successful in locating seven black-and-gold and one brown howler monkey social groups living syntopically. Black-and-gold group size ranged from 5 to 15 individuals, whereas the brown group was composed of 7 individuals. The pelage color of three adult males belonging to different black-and-gold groups and another adult male belonging to the brown howler group presented a mosaic of red or rufous and black. These adult males and an adult female living in another black-and-gold group are putative hybrids. Therefore, it appears that pre-zygotic reproductive isolation has not evolved, at least not completely, between these howler monkey species, corroborating previous reports for these and other Alouatta taxa. Future genetic studies need to confirm the occurrence of hybridization in this contact zone, and to determine the viability and fertility of hybrids and their possible offspring. In addition, there is no evidence supporting the existence of significant segregation in habitat and resource utilization by black-and-gold and brown howler monkeys.


Reproductive isolation Habitat segregation Competition Color patterns Sexual dichromatism Phenotypic mosaicism 



We thank Conservation International, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund, for the financial support allowing us to cover the costs of field personnel. Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul generously provided financial and logistical support. Most expenses, except those of field personnel salary, were covered by personal funds provided by C.B.J. We also thank biologist D. Gressler, Mrs. L. Gressler, and the Buss family for allowing us to conduct our research at their farms. We are indebted to R. Lahm and D.N. dos Santos Júnior from the Laboratório de Tratamento de Imagem e Geoprocessamento (LTIG/PUCRS) for working on maps and satellite images of the study site, V.M. Silva from the Universidade de Cruz Alta for drawing Fig. 1, R.S. Bergamin, D.S. Lindenmaier and G. Schüssler for on-site plant identification and helping in data collection, C.A. Mondin for helping with exsicata identification, and field assistant A.P. Rodrigues for helping in data collection. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Júlio César Bicca-Marques
    • 1
  • Helissandra Mattjie Prates
    • 1
  • Fernanda Rodrigues Cunha de Aguiar
    • 1
  • Clara B. Jones
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratório de Primatologia, Faculdade de BiocienciasPontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFayetteville State UniversityFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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