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Research Article

Conservation of Colombian primates: an analysis of published research [ 45-62 ]

Stevenson, Pablo R., Guzmán,Diana C. and Defler, Thomas R.

In Colombia, there are approximately 27-31 primate species, including at least five endemic ones and a high proportion of threatened species. Differences in these primates’ distribution, abundance, ecology, and charisma, among many other things, have led to large variation in the amount and nature of investigations performed on the different species. Basic information on each native primate species is necessary to build adequate conservation plans; therefore, knowledge of the quantity and type of information available on each species can be helpful to identify possible research gaps. Based on publications from 1900 to 2008 on 25 primate species present in Colombia, we evaluated primate research in this country in terms of quantity, type, and topics of investigation. Additionally, we comparatively assessed the role of Colombian primatology within all scientific production on primate species present in this country. Our analyses indicate that in Colombia, primate research has developed mainly in the field-work area, with studies focused primarily on ecology and behavior. Investigations of topics such as karyology, anatomy, and physiology are very limited, and molecular biology is understudied compared to research on this subject in other countries. Captive studies are also comparatively scarce. Our analyses also suggest that those species distributed in areas where research stations are located have been the focus of a greater proportion of investigations. A few study sites (PNN La Macarena, Rio Peneya Station, PNN Tinigua, and Caparu Biological Station) stand out as primate research “hot-spots” within Colombia; however, field work in these stations is frequently jeopardized by the constant threat imposed by revolutionary armed forces in the rural and forested parts of Colombia.

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    English: Colombia is one of the countries with the highest number of plant and animal species. About 30 monkey species inhabit Colombian forests and at least five of them are only found in this county. Through a detailed evaluation of scientific publication databases, we evaluated which of these species have been well studied, and which species deserve more studies. We found that research on Colombian monkeys has been undertaken in natural conditions, aiming to describe their behavior and ecology. In contrast, we found few studies in laboratories and zoos for the country. We additionally noticed that the most studied species (such as woolly monkeys, brown capuchins and red howlers) are usually present where research stations are established, and where long term studies have taken place (e.g., PNN Tinigua and Caparu Biological Station). However, research activities in these stations are frequently jeopardized by deforestation, hunting and illegal armed forces. In order to preserve Colombian monkeys it is necessary to know more about them, especially about species with high risk of extinction, such as the spider monkeys in Choco and the Magdelena valley, the grey tamarin, the cotton-topped tamarin, the Caqueta´s titi and the Andean woolly monkeys. Since some of these endangered monkeys are not found in national parks, new conservation areas and programs are needed. New world monkeys are generally good seed dispersers of many plant species, therefore, their conservation helps maintain the diversity of plants in the forests they inhabit.

    Español: Stevenson et al llevaron a cabo un reconocimiento exhaustivo de la literatura sobre studios de primates en Colombia con la meta de determinar que especies han sido adecuadamente estudiadas, cuales no y cuales son los vacios de información temática. Señalan que esto es importante si se considera que Colombia es una país megadiverso, alojando cerca de 30 especies de primates, varia de las cuales son endémicas al país. El reconocimiento de la literatura abarco los años de 1900-2008 y esta cubre varios aspectos de ña biología, ecología, conducta y conservación de alrededor de 25 especies. Sin embargo, parece que las diferencias en estos aspectos, asi como la distribución, accesibilidad y carisma de algunas especies, ha resultado en una concentración de información sobre estas y una pobreza de datos sobre la mayoría. Asi notaron que las especies mas estudiadas han sido los monos lanudos, los capuchinos cafés y los monos aulladores rojos. Estos primates por loa general se han encontrado en las áreas de establecimiento de estación de investigación en el campo y en donde los estudios a largo plazo muchas veces han estado amenazados por la deforestación circundante, la cacería y los conflictos armados. Del mismo modo señalan que especies como el tamarino gris, el tamarino de copete de algodón y los titi Caqueta, asi como el mono lanudo andino han sido poco estudiados. Los autores concluyen que la conservación de los primates de Colombia requiere información científica sobre estos y también la protección de los ecosistemas en que se encuentran.
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   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

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