Mammal assemblages in forest fragments and landscapes occupied by black howler monkeys
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Species assemblages in disturbed habitats vary as a function of the interaction between species requirements and the spatial configuration of the habitat. There are many reports accounting for the presence of howler monkeys in fragments where other mammals are absent, suggesting that they are more resilient. In the present study we explored this idea and predicted that if howler monkeys were more resilient to habitat loss and fragmentation than other mammals, mammal assemblages in fragments occupied by howler monkeys should include fewer species with decreasing amount of habitat (smaller fragment size and less habitat in the landscape) and increasing number of forest fragments. We explored these relationships by additionally considering the feeding and life habits of mammal species, as well as the isolation and proximity of each fragment to human settlements and roads. We sampled the presence of mammals in five fragments occupied by black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) in the Mexican state of Campeche. Through direct sights performed during 240 h in each fragment, we observed 23 species. At the landscape scale, higher fragmentation was associated with a decrease in herbivores, omnivores and total number of species. At the fragment scale semiarboreal, omnivore, and total number of species increased with increasing fragment size. This study supports the idea that howler monkeys are more resilient to forest loss and fragmentation than other native mammals, and our exploratory analyses suggest that the specific mammal assemblages that are found in fragments are related to both landscape and fragment scale spatial attributes, as well as with species-specific characteristics.
KeywordsAlouatta Fragment size Landscape spatial attributes Mexico Trophic level
We thank all the students and volunteers that helped during fieldwork. The following people and institutions granted permission to work in their properties and facilitated our fieldwork: Comisarios Ejidales de Abelardo Domínguez, Calax, Conhuas, Plan de Ayala, and Carmén Gómez; Ayuntamiento de Calakmul; Lic. C. Vidal and Lic. L. Álvarez, INAH Campeche; Biól. F. Durand Siller, Reserva de la Biósfera Calakmul, CONANP; Ing. V. Olvera, El Álamo. This study was supported by CFE (RGCPTTP-UV-001/04), Universidad Veracruzana, Conacyt (Grant Number: 235839; i010/458/2013 C-703/2013) and Idea Wild. Some of the ideas included in this paper were presented at the “II Congresso Latino Americano & XV Congresso Brasileiro de Primatologia” (Recife, Brasil, August 2013). We thank conference participants for stimulating discussions, and L.K. Marsh for very constructive comments on a previous version of the manuscript. A. Rangel-Negrín and P.A.D. Dias thank Mariana for support during the writing of this paper.
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