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

The looming legacy of deforestation for red colobus monkeys inKibaleNational Park


Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Anthropogenic changes to wild habitats can have far-reaching effects on primate populations, including changes in feeding behaviors, activity budgets, reproductive function, and hormone concentrations. Using the endangered red colobus monkey (Procolobus rufomitratus) as a model, this study examines behavioral and physiological responses to habitat disturbance in and aroundKibale National Park,Uganda. By comparing individuals in unprotected forest fragments, previously logged protected park land, and unlogged protected park land, I aimed to examine 1) ecological variation between habitats, 2) hormonal differences across different forest types, and 3) behavioral variation in different habitats. Twelve groups of red colobus monkeys were followed and sampled (including groups from forest fragments, unlogged park land, and logged park land). Fecal samples were analyzed for reproductive and stress hormone concentrations. There were significant ecological differences between the fragments, unlogged park area, and logged park land. For individuals in fragments, these ecological differences also correlated with significant differences in reproductive hormone concentrations; however, there were no significant differences in reproductive hormones for females in protected park lands, regardless of whether they were previously logged or not. Individuals in previously logged, now protected park land show behavioral variations from those in unlogged areas, which may suggest that they are adjusting their behaviors to offset ecological contstraints. Behavioral plasticity may be particularly important for wild primate populations who face habitat loss or degradation. Behavioral adjustments may represent a strategy for maintaining successful reproduction in stable, albeit degraded, habitats, but cannot offset the stress of living in a fragmented environment.

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