|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||18 Jul 2007|
The Margarita Capuchin monkey (Cebus apella margaritae) is the only primate species on Margarita Island (920 km2), which is located in the Venezuelan Caribbean Sea. This monkey lives in Margarita’s mountain forests, where it lacks large predators and natural primate competitors. Capuchins have a relevant role in forest dynamics as predators and seed dispersers; unfortunately these roles could be highly affected in Margarita`s forests, if the monkey`s population keeps decreasing. This primate is on the IUCN Red List and the Venezuelan Red List as a critically endangered sub-species. Parts of the distribution range of the Margarita monkeys are protected areas, but they are still threatened by hunting pressure and by inhabiting a reduced and fragmented habitat. They are hunted for pest control and pet trade. Recent reports of released wedge-capped Capuchin monkey (Cebus olivaceus) pets by local people in the habitat of the Margarita monkeys can be another threat for these primates.
This primate inhabits three separated mountains on the island. One of these is a National Park (Cerro el Copey), another is a Natural Monument (Cerro Matasiete) and one remains unprotected. The vegetation cover of these mountains have particular ecological interest, because they support an isolated cloud forest at an exceptionally low altitude (c.a 600m asl) contrasting with an arid lowland. On the Caribbean coast of South America there are only two more localities with these features.
The main goal in this study is to evaluate the use of habitat by the Margarita Capuchin monkey over its fragmented range of distribution and generate recommendation for its conservation. Data will be collected in the three forest fragments where this monkey lives. Characterisation of the habitat, line-transect surveys and pet surveys along with interviews with local people are conducted. Transects have been located in the study sites under a stratified-random design and Distance sampling is used to collect and analyse the data recorded on transects. Although Margarita Island is best known for its beaches and several tourist attractions, this is also one of the islands with higher biodiversity in the Caribbean Sea. Information will be provided to develop proper conservation management for the Margarita monkey. The conservation of this Capuchin is a key element in protecting the habitat of other endemic species and the ecological processes in Margarita`s mountains.
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