The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

A preliminary report on the interactions between humans and squirrel monkeys in the southern Costa Rica countryside


Department of Biology, Oklahoma City University

Friday Afternoon, 301D Add to calendar

Human-modified landscapes are inarguably important to the survival and health of many primate species. As humans continue to expand into primate habitat, and as previously disturbed habitat regenerates, primates are increasingly found in land defined as countryside: any land without buildings where the ecosystem is strongly influenced by humans.

This research investigates how a previously unstudied population of an endangered subspecies of squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii oerstedii) interacts with their human-impacted and modified surroundings in southern Costa Rica. I present pilot data here on the daily activity budgets, habitat use, and feeding behavior of two troops of squirrel monkeys living in and around Morphose Mountain Retreat, near Ciudad Neily.

Predictions of monkey habitat use based on earlier conversations with local landowners were unsupported, and in fact, the monkeys interacted with humans and human-modified landscapes in counterintuitive ways. My results indicate that in some cases squirrel monkey habitat may not be fragmented by the presence of roads and that monkeys in a populated area may be able to successfully avoid increased contact with humans. These results can be used to better inform management decisions for countryside habitats to ensure endangered squirrel monkey population survival.

Research was sponsored by an Oklahoma City University CAIRS Undergraduate Research Assistant Summer Research Grant.

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