International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 40, Issue 4–5, pp 470–495 | Cite as

Habitat Use in a Population of the Northern Muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus)

  • Marlon Lima
  • Sérgio L. Mendes
  • Karen B. StrierEmail author


Habitat loss and fragmentation are known to restrict the movements of primates, including their ability to expand their home ranges. These effects are especially strong at high densities, where home range overlap can result in high rates of agonistic intergroup encounters over range defense. We investigated habitat use and range defense in a population of northern muriquis (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) at the Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural – Feliciano Miguel Abdala, in Minas Gerais, Brazil from August 2010 to July 2013. The four groups in this isolated population used 878 ha of forest, with home ranges exhibiting high interannual fidelity in location and low intergroup overlap. Core areas represented 13–29% of the respective home ranges and, except for one group, showed only moderate to low interannual fidelity in successive years. Of 130 intergroup encounters recorded in 2010–2011, significantly more occurred in core areas that overlapped with the range of another group than in areas of home range overlap or areas used exclusively by one group. Daily path lengths of the one group used in assessing range defensibility varied little (1075–1132 m) across years and relative to home range diameter did not meet the criteria for defensibility. However, the occurrence of independent subgroups, combined with a mean monthly detection distance of 242 m, provides strong evidence of range defensibility. These findings point to the importance of fission–fusion dynamics for intergroup range defense, particularly in primates living at high densities in fragmented habitats.


Core area Daily path length Home range Intergroup encounter Ranging patterns Territoriality 



Permission to conduct this research in Brazil was granted by the Brazilian government (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq), the Abdala Family, and the Sociedade Preserve Muriqui. Field work during the 2010–2013 study period was supported by grants to KBS from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0921013), the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Conservation International, and the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and by CNPq (Proc. 479054/2008-8) to SLM. Analyses were conducted in the Laboratório de Biologia da Conservação de Vertebrados, LBCV) of SLM at the Universidade Federal de Espírito Santo (UFES). We thank A. Ferreira, T. S. Cardoso, C. B. Possamai, I. Inforzato, R. Filho, P. Campos, A. B. Morais, M.S. Cristo, and F. R. Fernandes for their contributions to the data presented here. We also thank Prof. Milton Cesar Ribeiro and Bernardo Brandão Niebuhr dos Santos of the Laboratório de Ecologia Espacial e Conservação (LEEC) – Universidade Estadual de São Paulo (UNESP) and Prof. André Luiz N. Coelho of the Laboratório de Cartografia Geográfica e Geotecnologias (LCGGEO) – UFES for help with the spatial analyses. The Sociedade para a Preservação do Muriqui and Conservação Internacional – Brasil provided essential infrastructure and administrative support during the field work. The data analyses were conducted by ML while supported by the Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas – Biologia Animal – UFES and this study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001. We are grateful to many colleagues who contributed ideas and suggestions, especially Drs. C. B. Possamai, F. R. de Melo, and S. Van Belle. We also thank our editor, Dr. Júlio César Bicca-Marques, and two anonymous reviewers for their extremely helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript, and the editor-in-chief, Jo Setchell, for her suggestions.

Author Contributions

ML, SLM and KBS conceived and designed the study. ML conducted fieldwork. ML and KBS analyzed the data. ML and KBS wrote the manuscript. SLM provided editorial advice and analytical support in his laboratory.

Supplementary material

10764_2019_98_MOESM1_ESM.docx (196 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 196 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Departamento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Espírito SantoVitóriaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional da Mata AtlânticaSanta TeresaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA

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