Sikundur primate community habitat use (2015-ongoing)

Animals move through their habitat for a variety of reasons; food resources, reproduction and predator avoidance. Several studies on these variables have shown the effect they have on the animal’s use of space; however research into the effect of canopy and vegetation structure on animal movement, independent of these variables has received little attention.

The study will be undertaken in a Sumatran lowland dipterocarp rainforest. Several arboreal primates reside here including gibbon Hylobates spp, siamang ymphalangus syndactylus, Thomas leaf monkey Presbytis thomasi and macaques Macaca spp, as well as the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan Pongo albeli. Species dependent on specific canopy structures may be particularly sensitive to variation in forest structure and limited to areas of high-statured forest that provide adequate branching for their positional and locomotor repertoire. Analysing patterns of space use by these primate species could provide invaluable data for conservation planners and used as ‘indicators’ of intact mature or primary forests in specific areas/regions.

Objectives

1. Habituation of primate groups to allow accurate data collection on behaviour and population dynamics.

2. Distribution and abundance of diurnal arboreal primate species in relation to vegetation and canopy structure.

3. Vegetation sampling and ground truthing of vegetation from remote sensing techniques providing baseline data on forest three-dimensional structure.

4. Analysis of primate distribution data in relation to forest canopy structure providing a reliable model to estimate primate densities and survival rates at a landscape scale.

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