The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Influences of natural and anthropogenic landscape features on ranging patterns of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus)


Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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Both environmental and anthropogenic features of the landscape influence nonhuman primate ranging patterns. When traveling to major feeding and resting sites, primates may navigate by orienting to ridgelines and other topographic features in their home range (Di Fiore and Suarez, 2007), as well as to anthropogenic disturbances such as pastures, small forest corridors and trees along fencerows. In this study, I examine how ranging patterns of white-faced capuchins are influenced by both environmental and anthropogenic aspects of the landscape. During June and July 2011, I collected data from a group of 16 white-faced capuchins at La Suerte Biological Field Station in northeastern Costa Rica. Over 38 observation days (134 hours of quantitative data), I recorded the location of the group every 2 minutes, and the location of all major feeding and resting sites using a GPS unit. The group visited 17 major feeding and resting sites from 3 to 16 times during the study period. Travel paths taken to these sites frequently followed fencerows, single lines of trees in regenerating pasture, habitually used routes, particular trees spanning gaps in the canopy, and ridgelines. Of 30 observed river crossings to and from their sleeping site, one particular area was used significantly more frequently than the other 3 possible crossing points (Χ2=18.8, df=3, p<0.05). These results indicate that capuchins are highly adaptable to changes that result from anthropogenic disturbance and incorporate natural topographic features of their habitat when navigating between feeding and resting sites.

This study was funded by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

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