Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1221–1238 | Cite as

Primate population dynamics: variation in abundance over space and time

  • Colin A. ChapmanEmail author
  • Sarah Bortolamiol
  • Ikki Matsuda
  • Patrick A. Omeja
  • Fernanda P. Paim
  • Rafael Reyna-Hurtado
  • Raja Sengupta
  • Kim Valenta
Original Paper


The rapid disappearance of tropical forests, the potential impacts of climate change, and the increasing threats of bushmeat hunting to wildlife, makes it imperative that we understand wildlife population dynamics. With long-lived animals this requires extensive, long-term data, but such data is often lacking. Here we present longitudinal data documenting changes in primate abundance over 45 years at eight sites in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Complex patterns of change in primate abundance were dependent on site, sampling year, and species, but all species, except blue monkeys, colonized regenerating forest, indicating that park-wide populations are increasing. At two paired sites, we found that while the primate populations in the regenerating forests had increased from nothing to a substantial size, there was little evidence of a decline in the source populations in old-growth forest, with the possible exception of mangabeys at one of the paired sites. Censuses conducted in logged forest since 1970 demonstrated that for all species, except black-and-white colobus, the encounter rate was higher in the old-growth and lightly-logged forest than in heavily-logged forest. Black-and-white colobus generally showed the opposite trend and were most common in the heavily-logged forest in all but the first year of monitoring after logging, when they were most common in the lightly-logged forest. Overall, except for blue monkey populations which are declining, primate populations in Kibale National Park are growing; in fact the endangered red colobus populations have an annual growth rate of 3%. These finding present a positive conservation message and indicate that the Uganda Wildlife Authority is being effective in managing its biodiversity; however, with constant poaching pressure and changes such as the exponential growth of elephant populations that could cause forest degradation, continued monitoring and modification of conservation plans are needed.


Population change Climate change Primate conservation Restoration Logging Population recovery 



This paper is dedicated to the late Dr. Jeremiah Lwanga, who spent the last 30 years conducting research in Kibale National Park, Uganda and then directing Makerere University Biological Field Station. Funding for the research in Kibale National Park was provided by the IDRC grant “Climate change and increasing human-wildlife conflict: How to conserve wildlife in the face of increasing conflicts with landowners”, the Canada Research Chairs Program, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Fonds Québécois de la Recherché sur la Nature et les Technologies, and the National Geographic Society. Permission to conduct this research was given by the National Council for Science and Technology, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and McGill University Animal Care. We thank Lauren Chapman, Mike Lawes, Joe Skorupa, and Tom Struhsaker for helpful comments on this project. Tom Struhsaker has been particularly helpful over the years, sharing data and opinions, and we are grateful for his continued support.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  3. 3.Section of Social Systems Evolution, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Departments of Anthropology and GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.UMR 7533 Laboratoire Dynamiques Sociales et Recomposition des EspacesParis Diderot UniversityParisFrance
  6. 6.UMR 7206 Eco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie (MNHN/CNRS/Paris Diderot)ParisFrance
  7. 7.Chubu University Academy of Emerging SciencesKasugaiJapan
  8. 8.Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  9. 9.Japan Monkey CentreInuyamaJapan
  10. 10.Institute for Tropical Biology and ConservationUniversiti Malaysia SabahKota KinabaluMalaysia
  11. 11.Makerere University Biological Field StationFort PortalUganda
  12. 12.Grupo de Ecologia de Vertebrados, Terrestres, Estrada do BexigaInstituto de desenvolvimento sustentavel MamiruauaTeféBrazil
  13. 13.El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, ECOSURCampecheMexico
  14. 14.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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