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Am J Primatol. 2008 Dec;70(12):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20620.

Current status of the habitat and population of the black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) in Balancán, Tabasco, Mexico.

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División de Posgrado, Instituto de Ecología AC, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.


We evaluated the habitat and populations of the black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) in the municipality of Balancán, Tabasco, southeastern Mexico, using a combination of field surveys and remotely sensed data. We identified 21,937 ha of remnant vegetation composed of 1,348 fragments. Fragments separated by up to 200 m were grouped into "clusters" of fragments in accordance with the maximum observed open distance crossed by A. pigra. A total of 11% or 84 of the 772 clusters identified through remote sensing were selected at random, and for these we determined the vegetation type, canopy height, area, and distance to the closest human settlement. In these same 84 clusters, which included a total area of 9,817 ha, from October to June of 2006 we located a total of 1,064 black howler monkeys, including 228 troops and 49 solitary monkeys. A. pigra was found in 62 (74.7%) of all clusters visited, with a cumulative area of 6,032 ha. Troops varied in size from 2 to 15 individuals (average 6.0+/-2.9 ind/troop). Adults were 67% (n=716) of detected individuals, whereas juveniles were 20.5% (n=218) and infants were 12.5% (n=133). We found black howlers to occur at an ecological density of 10.8 ind/km(2), which is low in comparison with A. pigra in other fragmented and conserved sites. We found a statistically significant relationship between the area of clusters and the abundance of howler monkeys (r(2)=0.2, F=10.47, gl=3, P=0.002). In addition, the probability of finding A. pigra was greater in secondary vegetation, riparian vegetation, tropical dry forest, undisturbed tropical oak forest, and palm forest (F=12, gl=3, P<0.0001), as compared with disturbed tropical oak forest. Our results provide data on the distribution, abundance, and population structure of black howler monkeys in a fragmented landscape in the southeast of Mexico. These data are a necessary prerequisite for conservation planning for this species.

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