Demography In Recovery Of The Endangered Muriqui
This study examines the recovery of the northern muriqui living in a forest in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The primates were critically endangered and at 60 individuals in the study population when the research began in 1983. The researchers found, unexpectedly, that their population leveled off and stopped growing at a certain point due to demographic shifts among the murigui. The researchers attributed the demographic shift to behavioral changes as their population grew. This is an important finding because it highlights that conservation efforts need not only take into account species’ behaviors and demographic characteristics when their populations are small, but must also track and observe demographic variables as species are recovering.
“Assessments of the status of endangered species have focused on population sizes, often without knowledge of demographic and behavioral processes underlying population recovery. We analyzed demographic data from a 28-year study of a critically endangered primate, the northern muriqui, to investigate possible changes in demographic rates as this population recovered from near extirpation.”
“As the population increased from 60 to nearly 300 individuals, its growth rate declined due to increased mortality and male-biased birth sex ratios; the increased mortality was not uniform across ages and sexes, and there has been a recent increase in mortality of prime-aged males. If not for a concurrent increase in fertility rates, the population would have stabilized at 200 individuals instead of continuing to grow. The unexpected increase in fertility rates and in adult male mortality can be attributed to the muriquis’ expansion of their habitat by spending more time on the ground.”
“The demographic consequences of this behavioral shift must be incorporated into management tactics for this population and emphasize the importance of understanding demographic rates in the recovery of endangered species.”