Department of Integrative Biology, Florida Atlantic University
March 28, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2/3/4/5
Florida is home to over 500 exotic species with most being introduced by humans, including three primate species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports breeding populations of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sp.) in three different counties, and green monkeys (Chlorocebus sabaeus) in Dania Beach. This study focuses on the later population, as it is not well known among primatologists, yet multiple media reports exist about monkey sightings in urban areas. The main goals of this study were to (1) investigate historical records to understand the origins of the feral vervet population, and (2) conduct a census from January-August 2014 to examine the current population size. We found that the vervets escaped or were released from the Anthropoid Ape Research Foundation in the 1950’s. This facility, established in the early 1940’s, also known as the Chimpanzee Farm, imported primates to be sold for medical research. In 1957 the farm closed when Florida Power and Light bought the land. Through local reports and direct counts of monkeys we documented four groups (35 monkeys total) occupying the urban landscape and protected mangroves of Dania Beach. These groups live adjacent to businesses that offer provisioning year round. Our future research goals are to investigate the ecology and behavior of the vervet monkeys to understand how they have adapted to the South Florida mangrove habitat, and examine the dynamics of the human/non-human primate interface.