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

Cold, wet and hungry? fluctuations in frugivore populations in response to extreme climactic events


1n/a, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 2n/a, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, 3Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 4n/a, Montclair State University

Thursday 2:30-2:45, Galleria South Add to calendar

Food availability, predators and disease are hypothesized to be three major forces shaping the size and demographic structure of primate populations. Extreme climatic events can also have dramatic, long-term impacts, but the contribution of such events to the observed structure of primate populations can be difficult to ascertain. Here, we report a population decline of as much as 70% in the white-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus) population living on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama that occurred in conjunction with a wet season characterized by unusually high rainfall, unusually low temperatures, and the failure of a keystone fruit species, Dipteryx oleifera. We use time series analyses to investigate how habitat-wide fruit production, climatic variables including rainfall and temperature, and predator density shape fluctuations in frugivore abundance on BCI over a 30 year period. Our results show a complex relationship between environmental variables and frugivore populations, and indicate that the factors that drive population fluctuations in response to extreme climatic event do not necessarily explain year to year variation in population sizes.

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