Understanding the main drivers of species extinction in human-modified landscapes has gained paramount importance in proposing sound conservation strategies. Primates play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of forest ecosystem functions and represent the best studied order of tropical terrestrial vertebrates, yet primate species diverge widely in their responses to forest habitat disturbance and fragmentation. Here, we present a robust quantitative review on the synergistic effects of habitat fragmentation on Neotropical forest primates to pinpoint the drivers of species extinction across a wide range of forest patches from Mexico to Argentina. Presence-absence data on 19 primate functional groups were compiled from 705 forest patches and 55 adjacent continuous forest sites, which were nested within 61 landscapes investigated by 96 studies. Forest patches were defined in terms of their size, surrounding matrix and level of hunting pressure on primates, and each functional group was classified according to seven life-history traits. Generalized linear mixed models showed that patch size, forest cover, level of hunting pressure, home range size and trophic status were the main predictors of species persistence within forest isolates for all functional groups pooled together. However, patterns of local extinction varied greatly across taxa, with Alouatta and Callicebus moloch showing the highest occupancy rates even within tiny forest patches, whereas Brachyteles and Leontopithecus occupied fewer than 50% of sites, even in relatively large forest tracts. Our results uncover the main predictors of platyrrhine primate species extinction, highlighting the importance of considering the history of anthropogenic disturbances, the structure of landscapes, and species life-history attributes in predicting primate persistence in Neotropical forest patches. We suggest that large-scale conservation planning of fragmented forest landscapes should prioritize and set-aside large, well-connected and strictly protected forest reserves to maximize species persistence across the entire spectrum of primate life-history.
- Conservation of Natural Resources
- Extinction, Biological
- Population Dynamics
- Tropical Climate