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Canopy-dwelling rainforest mammals most sensitive to human disturbance

15 / 05 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

New research using arboreal camera traps finds that canopy-dwelling mammals are particularly sensitive to the impacts of human disturbance in rainforests and that these effects are easily missed by more traditional monitoring methods. Large-bodied arboreal species like the endangered Peruvian woolly monkey and the endangered black-faced spider monkey were found to be most impacted by forest disturbance, according to the study, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions last week. These larger primates are important seed dispersers for hardwood trees, which contribute disproportionately to the biomass of tropical forests. The loss of these species could thus lead to cascading ecosystems effects that might pose a significant threat to the carbon storage potential of degraded tropical forests. “Community-level assessments of how biodiversity responds to disturbance within forest habitats are often biased towards terrestrial-based surveys,” the authors note in the study. “However, recent research suggests that arboreal communities of several indicator groups (ants, amphibians, beetles and butterflies) are more susceptible to human disturbance than their terrestrial counterparts, but what about wildlife at higher trophic levels?” To answer that question, an international team of researchers led by Andrew Whitworth of the UK’s University of Glasgow deployed camera traps on the ground and high up in the trees of Manú Biosphere Reserve in southeast Peru in order to compare how terrestrial and arboreal mammal communities respond to degradation and disturbance of their tropical forest habitat. A total of 248 camera traps were set up at 168 sites throughout the reserve, a UNESCO and IUCN…

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