The Northern Muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus): Lessons on Behavioral Plasticity and Population Dynamics from a Critically Endangered Species

  • Karen B. Strier
  • Sérgio L. Mendes


Since its onset in the early 1980s, our ongoing field study of the northern muriqui in southeastern Brazil has yielded original data on the behavioral ecology, reproductive biology, and life histories of one of the most critically endangered primates in the world. At the same time, a sixfold expansion in the size of our study population has provided insights into the plasticity of behavior and life history patterns that have important implications for muriqui conservation as well as for comparative models of primate socioecology. In this review of the history, growth, and diversification of our long-term study, we describe the transformation of our field site into a federally protected private reserve, the progression of the research questions as our knowledge has increased, and our predictions about the effects of increased population density on key demographic and life history variables. We also reiterate the need for more comparative studies of other muriqui populations, and reflect on the essential role that long-term, international collaborations have played in advancing the scientific and conservation agendas we have pursued from the start.


Forest Fragment Life History Data Main Study Group Intragroup Competition Male Philopatry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank CNPq for permission for us to conduct research in Brazil and for the support of part of this work, the Abdala family for permission to conduct this research at the RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala, and the Sociedade para a Preservação do Muriqui (Preserve Muriqui), Conservation International (CI) and CI-Brasil for their help with logistics and long-term collaboration. We thank the many people who have contributed to the long-term demographic data records (in alphabetical order): L. Arnedo, M.L. Assunção, N. Bejar, J.P. Boubli, A. Carvalho, D. Carvalho, C. Cäsar, A.Z. Coli, C.G. Costa, P. Coutinho, L. Dib, Leonardo G. Dias, Luiz G. Dias, D.S. Ferraz, J. Fidelis, J. Gomes, D. Guedes, V.O. Guimarães, R. Hack, M.F. Iurck, M. Kaizer, M. Maciel, W.P. Martins, F.D.C. Mendes, I.M. Mourthé, F. Neri, M. Nery, S. Neto, C.P. Nogueria, A. Odalia Rímoli, A. Oliva, L. Oliveira, F.P. Paim, C.B. Possamai, R.C. Printes, J. Rímoli, S.S. Rocha, R.C. Romanini, R.R. dos Santos, B.G.M. da Silva, J.C. da Silva, V. Souza, D.V. Slomp, F.P. Tabacow, W. Teixeira, M. Tokudo, K. Tolentino, and E.M. Veado. We especially thank Carla de Borba Possamai and Fernanda Pedreira Tabacow for their commitment to the long-term demographic data. The field study has been supported by a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation (BNS 8305322, BCS 8619442, BCS 8958298, BCS 9414129, BCS 0621788, BCS 0921013), National Geographic Society, the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid, Grant #213 from the Joseph Henry Fund of the NAS, World Wildlife Fund, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, Chicago Zoological Society, Lincoln Park Zoo Neotropic Fund, Center for Research on Endangered Species (CRES), Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Conservation International, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and CNPq – Brazilian National Research Council. This research has complied with all U.S. and Brazilian regulations. We thank Peter Kappeler for inviting us to participate in the conference that led to this volume, and for including our contribution here despite our inability to attend. We appreciate the comments that he and David Watts provided on an earlier version of this chapter.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do Espírito SantoVitóriaBrazil

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