Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 13, pp 3469–3511 | Cite as

Distribution, population density and conservation of the critically endangered brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus) and other primates of the inter-Andean forests of Colombia

  • Ana Gabriela de LunaEmail author
  • Andrés Link
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


The inter-Andean tropical rainforests and dry forests of the Magdalena river basin (Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot) in northern Colombia have undergone significant forest loss and degradation in recent decades. Six primate species inhabit this region, five of which are currently threatened with extinction and one of which—the brown spider monkey, Ateles hybridus—is considered critically endangered. Accurate and recent information on the distribution and conservation status of these threatened primate populations is scarce or nonexistent, even though such data are needed to implement successful conservation actions and management plans. Between 2006 and 2016, we evaluated the status and distribution of primates across inter-Andean lowland forests in northern Colombia. We visited 30 sites to evaluate the presence/absence of brown spider monkeys and other primate taxa in the region. We also carried out surveys at 10 of these sites to obtain estimates of primate population densities and demographic information from forests with different levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Novel data on primate presence/absence were obtained for 27 sites, and 136 records were collected in total. Only 33% of the sites visited were large forest fragments (> 500 Ha). This study confirms that at least six primate species are still present in the Rio Magdalena region, which represents the highest platyrrhine diversity west of the Andes. This study also confirms the persistence of a wild population of Colombian woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha lugens) in the Serranía de San Lucas. Assigning formal protected status to this region is an urgent priority for the conservation of primates in the Rio Magdalena region.


Population status Conservation priorities Biodiversity hotspots Primate diversity 



We thank all students and collaborators of Fundacion Proyecto Primates who contributed to this long-term study. We are grateful to all the local landowners in the survey region for allowing us to conduct research on their properties, particularly to the Campuzano, Jaramillo, Olaya, Lalinde and De Greiff families. We also thank Dr. Anthony Di Fiore and Dr. Sam Shanee who contributed significantly to the final version of this manuscript. This research was made possible thanks to collaboration with the following organizations: Biocolombia, Funcopromas, Fundación ProAves, ACVC, WCS-Colombia, and Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia. This project was funded by the WCS—Research Fellowship Programme, the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, the Bristol Zoological Society, the Primate Action Fund, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fundación Proyecto PrimatesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences and School of ManagementUniversidad de Los AndesBogotáColombia

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