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Acta Amazonica

Print version ISSN 0044-5967On-line version ISSN 1809-4392

Acta Amaz. vol.15  supl.3-4 Manaus  1985 

Original Article

Habitat preferences, diet, feeding strategy and social organization of the black spider monkey [Ateles paniscus paniscus Linnaeus 1758] in Surinam

M. G. M. van Roosmalen* 

* This field study of the black spider monkey was financed by the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research, The Hague. Departmental facilities were kindly provided by the Research Institute for Nature Management, the Institute of Systematic Botany, Utrecht, and the Agricultural University, Wageningen.


A Socioecological Field Study.

This monograph reports on a 26 month socioecological study of black spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus paniscus)in the Raleigh-vallen — Voltzberg Nature Reserve, Surinam. It recognizes the fundamental importance of food to the behavior and the regulation of population density fox this primate. It clarifies the complex temporal and spatial effects of tropical rain forest food sources on the behavior of a group of spider monkeys, concentrating on food category, food plant identity and phenology, and quantity, density and dispersion of the most important food sources. In addition, the present study describes habitat choice, optimal feeding strategy and sexual behavior of the spider monkey, and discusses implications of diet for social behavior. This study is also fundamental to conservation. Specialized in eating mature fruits, the spider monkey is a very important dispersal agent for many trees and lianes, particularly canopy species. However, the spider monkey is probably the most vulnerable monkey species in Surinam and it is disappearing rapidly throughout the remainder of its range. Unfortunately, it is large and noisy and can be easily tracked and hunted. It is largely restricted to undisturbed high forest, and consequently habitat destruction has more effect on it than on most other species. Together with its slow reproductive rate (a female gives birth only once every four or five years), this means that the species is poorly adapted to recover from exploitation. In order to implement proper measures for conservation, data on forest type preferences, diet and social behavior of the species, or on closely related species, in undisturbed areas, such as the one described in this monograph, are essential tools for assessing the potential of proposed protected areas.

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