Habitat determinants of golden‐headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) occupancy of cacao agroforests: Gloomy conservation prospects for management intensification

Juliana M. de Almeida-Rocha, Carlos A. Peres, Julio A. B. Monsalvo, Leonardo de C. Oliveira

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Organismal distributions in human‐modified landscapes largely depend on the capacity of any given species to adapt to changes in habitat structure and quality. The golden‐headed lion tamarin (GHLT; Leontopithecus chrysomelas) is an Endangered primate from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest whose remaining populations occupy heterogeneous landscapes consisting primarily of shade cacao (Theobroma cacao) agroforestry, locally known as cabrucas. This cash crop can coexist with high densities of native tree species and holds a significant proportion of the native fauna, but its widely extolled wildlife‐friendly status is increasingly threatened by management intensification. Although this potentially threatens to reduce the distribution of GHLTs, the main determinants of tamarin's occupancy of cabrucas remain unknown, thereby limiting our ability to design and implement appropriate conservation practices. We surveyed 16 cabruca patches in southern Bahia, Brazil, and used occupancy modeling to identify the best predictors of GHLT patch occupancy. Key explanatory variables included vegetation structure, critical resources, landscape context, human disturbance, and predation pressure. We found a negative relationship between GHLT occupancy and the prevalence of jackfruit trees (Artocarpus heterophylus), which is likely associated with the low representation of other key food species for GHLTs. Conversely, cabrucas retaining large‐diameter canopy trees have a higher probability of GHLT occupancy, likely because these trees provide preferred sleeping sites. Thus, key large tree resources (food and shelter) are currently the main drivers of GHLT occupancy within cabruca agroecosystems. Since both factors can be directly affected by crop management practices, intensification of cabrucas may induce significant habitat impacts on GHLT populations over much of their remaining range‐wide distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23179
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number9
Early online date24 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • Atlantic forest
  • Callitrichidae
  • agriculture
  • land-sharing
  • predators

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