Monkey study update

Monkey study update

August 2017

Project title: LAT Spider Monkey
Project Phase 2: Documenting their Behavior

Filippo Aureli
Universidad Veracruzana
ConMonoMaya AC​

In the April-August period of the project we continued to make good progress on several of the specific objectives of the project. We continued to be able to follow the LAT spider monkeys while they carried out their activities and expressed their natural behavior, a clear sign of a high degree of habituation of the monkeys to us (Objective 1). We continued to make good progress in recognizing individual monkeys (Objective 2). There are about 18 monkeys that we can recognize individually based on their distinctive coloration, characteristic marks on the face and genitals, and scars, but we have not seen several of for a few months. We hope to be able to identify them when we see them again. We continued to collect data to document the monkeys´ ranging and grouping patterns focusing on subgroup composition, and fission and fusion events (Objective 3). This data collection helps us also to document spider monkeys’ naturally occurring behavior at LAT (Objective 5) and the key tree species used by them for feeding and resting (Objective 6).

These last few months have been more challenging than the previous months in terms of finding and following the monkeys, although we learned more of their sleeping areas. Although we are now in the rainy season we still find the monkeys in small subgroups (a pattern that it is typical of the dry season), which are more difficult to find and follow because they are easier to lose. We also found out that the monkeys travel often outside LAT, possibly to areas where food is available. These facts indicate that the monkeys use an area larger than LAT. We had followed them outside LAT a few times, and we hope to do so on a regular basis to learn about additional feeding and sleeping locations. However, we do not want that our research assistant Cecilia goes outside LAT alone as she has already met hunters that warned her that it is dangerous going there alone. We hope that soon we will have other team members joining forces with Cecilia. Given the difficulty in finding the monkeys, we are now monitoring the presence or absence of the monkeys at each of the known sleeping areas most evenings. This new data collection will provide important information about the monkey behavior related to Objective 5.​​

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