International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 899–916 | Cite as

A Potential Distribution Model and Conservation Plan for the Critically Endangered Ecuadorian Capuchin, Cebus albifrons aequatorialis

  • Fernando A. CamposEmail author
  • Katharine M. Jack


Conservation actions that effectively and efficiently target single, highly threatened species require current data on the species’ geographic distribution and environmental associations. The Ecuadorian capuchin (Cebus albifrons aequatorialis) is a critically endangered primate found only in the fragmented forests of western Ecuador and northern Peru, which are among the world’s most severely threatened ecosystems. We use the MAXENT species distribution modeling method to model the potential distribution and environmental associations of Cebus albifrons aequatorialis, using all known presence localities recorded within the last 2 decades as well as 13 climate, topography, vegetation, and land-use data sets covering the entire geographic range of the subspecies. The environmental conditions that our model predicted to be ideal for supporting Cebus albifrons aequatorialis included ≥20% tree cover, mild temperature seasonality, annual precipitation <2000 mm, and low human population density. Our model identified 5028 km2 of suitable habitat remaining, although many of these forest fragments are unprotected and are unlikely to support extant populations. Using the median population density across all sites for which data are available, we estimate the total carrying capacity of the remaining habitat to be 12,500 total individuals. The true number of remaining individuals is likely to be considerably lower due to anthropogenic factors. We highlight four critical regions of high predicted suitability in western Ecuador and northern Peru on which immediate conservation actions should focus, and we lay out clear priorities to guide conservation actions for ensuring the long-term survival of this gravely threatened and little known primate.


Cebus albifrons aequatorialis Conservation plan Distribution model Ecuadorian capuchin MAXENT Northern Peru Western Ecuador 



F. A. Campos was supported by Alberta Innovates–Technology Futures and the University of Calgary. This research was made possible through the following research grants awarded to K. M. Jack: National Geographic Society Conservation Trust; Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation; University Research Council at Appalachian State University; and the Committee on Research, George Lurcy Fund, and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. We thank Dr. Luis Albuja and Rodrigo Acros for sharing locality data. We are grateful to the landowners and reserve personnel that allowed us to carry out field work, with special thanks to Eric Von Horstman, Eudaldo Loor, and the Cevallos-Martinez family. We also thank Zdanna King, Andrew Childers, Dale Morris, Sasha Gilmore, Robert Lee, Kate Laakso, Marcelo Luque, Patricia Intriago Alvaro, Vincente Salvo, Melina Costantino, Rafael Ángel, Alfonso Arguero Santos, and numerous field school students from Appalachian State University for logistical support. We also thank our anonymous reviewers for numerous helpful comments that improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (PDF 563 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CalgaryAlbertaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Integrated BiosciencesUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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