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What matters most in fragmented habitats? A comparison between resilient and non-resilient primates.

Seex, L (2016) What matters most in fragmented habitats? A comparison between resilient and non-resilient primates. Master's Thesis / Essay, Ecology and Evolution.

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Habitat fragmentation is a leading threat to primate conservation. Agriculture and urbanisation can split continuous forest habitat into smaller patches within a matrix. The ability of a species to persist in a habitat patch depends on the size of the patch, how isolated it is and the configuration of the matrix. This essay compares and contrasts threats and adaptations presented by a resilient and non-resilient species in regards to habitat fragmentation. Howler monkeys can persist in areas where other primates cannot (e.g. Ateles) by finding alternate food sources in the patch, surrounding patches or matrix and dispersing through highly modified matrices. Apes have life history traits that naturally make them more susceptible to lower survival in fragmented areas such as a low fecundity, long generation time, large body size, large home ranges and high frugivory. However, adaptations prove to be similar to those of howler monkeys; apes too have been shown to find alternate food sources, often through crop raiding and increasing their terrestrial movement to disperse or cross matrices. Nevertheless, the hunting threat is much higher in apes than howler monkeys and is further exacerbated by an increase of edge areas and access for hunters. Hunting threats have a high impact resulting in high mortality despite their adaptations. Furthermore, the presence of humans is the main and often only predicator for ape occupancy in a patch. A lack of studies quantitatively analysing habitat fragmentation in apes is shown, especially when compared with howler monkey studies. This means that the threat from anthropogenic hunting could be masking other factors that are equally important. A shift in studies needs to occur in apes in order to be able to properly assess which threats are most important as to better direct conservation efforts.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:27
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:27

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