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Critically Endangered capuchins discovered in four new locations

The Ecuadorian capuchin, a Critically Endangered subspecies of the white-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons), has been discovered in four new locations according to a new study in’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Found only in Ecuador and northern Peru, the scientists say the monkey may be unique enough to warrant consideration as a distinct species.

Surveying eleven forest regions for the Ecuadorian capuchin (Cebus albifrons aequatorialis) between 2002 and 2005, researchers located populations in seven locations, including four private reserves where that had never been documented: Chirije, Hacienda Paraíso, La Hesperia, and Lalo Loor.

Still the scientists “emphasize that the long-term survival prospects of this subspecies remain uncertain, as several of these areas are not officially protected, and hunting and deforestation are problematic even in protected areas.”

The scientists also observed Ecuadorian capuchins in highly fragmented and disturbed forests.

“Our finding that Ecuadorian capuchins uses degraded forest roughly in proportion to its abundance underscores the importance of conserving not only less-disturbed ‘core’ areas of forest that remain in western Ecuador, but also the surrounding degraded and secondary forest areas,” the scientists write, adding that “because Ecuadorian capuchins [are] clearly capable of exploiting a highly varied range of foods and habitats, we believe that if effective protection can be established, there is good potential for these small, fragmented populations to grow and expand into regenerating areas.”

Still, the subspecies, or perhaps distinct species, remains imperiled by deforestation, the illegal pet trade, bushmeat, and harassment by farmers for crop raiding.

CITATION: Jack, K. M. and Campos, F. A. 2012. Distribution, abundance, and spatial ecology of the critically endangered Ecuadorian capuchin (Cebus albifrons aequatorialis). Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(2):173-191.

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