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International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 209–226 | Cite as

Modeling Primate Abundance in Complex Landscapes: A Case Study From the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania

  • Claudia BarelliEmail author
  • Roger Mundry
  • Alessandro Araldi
  • Keith Hodges
  • Duccio Rocchini
  • Francesco Rovero
Article

Abstract

With persistent degradation of tropical forests creating fragmented landscapes, the study of patterns of primate responses to habitat changes is of increasing conservation relevance. We modeled primate abundance in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania through a landscape approach, i.e., one that includes a representative range of discrete forest blocks. The area is internationally recognized for biological endemism and is a primate hotspot in Africa. We targeted three predominantly arboreal monkeys: Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum), Peters’ Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus), and the Tanzania Sykes’ monkey (Cercopithecus mitis monoides). In each of the four forests (12–522 km2 in size), we counted primate groups along a grid of line transects (267 km walked) and sampled canopy trees in vegetation plots along the same transects (N = 408) to derive structural and floristic forest parameters and proxies of human impact. We found that elevation and the percentage of climber coverage on trees consistently emerged as significant predictors of primate abundance for all three species in spite of their differences in feeding habits, with a negative effect of elevation and a positive effect of climber coverage. This pattern held despite large variations in elevation, forest habitat, and human disturbance across the four forests surveyed. We conclude that arboreal primates in the Udzungwas are dependent on lowland and medium-elevation forests (ca. 300–1200 m a.s.l.) and show considerable resilience to moderate forest disturbance. However, agricultural intensification causes rapid forest degradation, with detrimental effects on primates that need to be prevented through increased protection and community conservation.

Keywords

Eastern Arc Ecological models Forest disturbance Line transect Peters’ Angola colobus Rain forest Tanzania Sykes’ monkey Udzungwa red colobus 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) for granting us permission to conduct the study (Costech Permits No. 2011-85-NA-2011-33; 2011-84-NA-2011-33; 2011-351-NA-2011-68; 2011-346-NA-2011-183). We are also grateful to the warden and staff of Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the Tanzanian field assistants for their valuable assistance throughout the study, and to J. F. Gallardo Palacios for conducting and managing most of the field work. We also thank S. Tenan, three anonymous reviewers, and the editor-in-chief Joanna Setchell for helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Financial support was provided by the Provincia Autonoma di Trento and the EU (Marie Curie Actions COFUND, postdoctoral grant to C. Barelli), Rufford Small Grants Foundation (1033-C to F. Rovero), Idea Wild (to A. Araldi), and the German Primate Centre (DPZ).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Barelli
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Roger Mundry
    • 4
  • Alessandro Araldi
    • 2
  • Keith Hodges
    • 2
  • Duccio Rocchini
    • 3
  • Francesco Rovero
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Sezione di Biodiversità TropicaleMUSE - Museo delle ScienzeTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Reproductive Biology Unit, German Primate Centre (DPZ)Leibniz Institute for Primate ResearchGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology DepartmentResearch and Innovation Centre - Fondazione Edmund MachTrentoItaly
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre (UEMC)Mang’ulaTanzania

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