Habitat destruction and forest fragmentation are perhaps the largest threats to primate species around the world. While national parks, games reserves, and primate sanctuaries are instrumental in primate conservation, research suggests that some non-governmentally protected forest fragments may also serve as viable habitats for primates. Of course not all primates respond to fragmentation in the same way, but a species’ ability to survive in a fragment relates to 1) home range size 2) degree of frugivory 3) dietary flexibility and behavioral plasticity and 4) ability to utilize matrix habitats. Here I describe these variables in relation to black and white colobus monkeys while focusing on dietary and behavioral plasticity. In general, black and white colobus monkeys seem well adapted to cope with forest fragmentation compared to other primate species because of their small home ranges, predominantly folivorous diets, and dietary and behavioral flexibility. For 15 days during October and November 2009, I observed two troops of Colobus angolensis palliatus in a small encroached forest fragment in the Western Usambara Mountains of northeastern Tanzania. Utilizing past studies from Preston (2002), Fox (2004), Heinen (2006), and Olsen (2007), this study monitors behavioral changes in terms of activity budgets and feeding effort to analyze stress levels associated with fragmentation. Furthermore, this study explores black and white colobus monkey dietary diversity in terms of tree species and selection ratios. This study suggests Colobus angolensis palliatus exhibit remarkable dietary diversity and may be altering their behavior to cope with increasing food scarcity over time. These characteristics likely contribute to primates’ ability to persist in this forest fragment.
Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Forest Management | Other Anthropology
Dunham, Noah T., "Coping with Forest Fragmentation: A Comparison of Colobus angolensis palliatus dietary diversity and behavioral plasticity in the East Sagara Forest, Tanzania." (2011). Honors Projects. Paper 36.