Potential distribution of Mexican primates: modeling the ecological niche with the maximum entropy algorithm.
Alouatta palliata, alouatta pigra, Ateles geoffroyi, ecological niche modeling, Maxent, potential distribution
We developed a potential distribution model for the tropical rain forest species of primates of southern Mexico: the black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra), the mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata), and the spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi). To do so, we applied the maximum entropy algorithm from the ecological niche modeling program MaxEnt. For each species, we used occurrence records from scientific collections, and published and unpublished sources, and we also used the 19 environmental coverage variables related to precipitation and temperature from WorldClim to develop the models. The predicted distribution of A. pigra was strongly associated with the mean temperature of the warmest quarter (23.6%), whereas the potential distributions of A. palliata and A. geoffroyi were strongly associated with precipitation during the coldest quarter (52.2 and 34.3% respectively). The potential distribution of A. geoffroyi is broader than that of the Alouatta spp. The areas with the greatest probability of presence of A. pigra and A. palliata are strongly associated with riparian vegetation, whereas the presence of A. geoffroyi is more strongly associated with the presence of rain forest. Our most significant contribution is the identification of areas with a high probability of the presence of these primate species, which is information that can be applied to planning future studies and then establishing criteria for the creation of areas to primate conservation in Mexico.