Habitat heterogeneity as a local and regional-scale driver of primate assemblage structure in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia

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We performed line transect surveys in two fishbone human settlements (defined as clearings cut through forests in a fishbone pattern, extending along secondary roads from a main road) in different vegetation types, as well as in one protected area. A total of 410 sightings of eight primate species were recorded in the three study areas. The mean total primate abundance was 3.28 groups/10 km walked, and there were significant differences between areas with different plant physiognomies. The abundance of the larger primate species Alouatta macconnelli and Ateles paniscus (Atelidae) was higher in the dense ombrophilous forests of the Entre Rios human settlement, whereas those of all the other species were higher in the forest mosaics of the Novo Paraíso human settlement and Viruá National Park. The habitat generalist Sapajus apella presented the highest abundances in all the areas. No significant differences were detected in relative biomass between study areas. Additionally, no significant differences were detected in the overall abundances or relative biomasses of the hunted species (Sapajus apella, Alouatta macconnelli, Ateles paniscus, and Chiropotes chiropotes) between study areas. Human impact has been recognized as shaping primate assemblages. However, in this study, primates were not part of the dietary repertoire of the non-Amazonian immigrants inhabiting the fishbone human settlements. Thus, although the primate assemblages varied considerably at the regional and local level, they were shaped by habitat heterogeneity, which allowed the competing species to coexist through habitat segregation.



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  • Study areas, in the north of the Brazilian Amazon: (1) Viruá National Park (with the PPBio grid), (2) Novo Paraíso settlement, (3) Entre Rios settlement (images from Google Earth, version 6.1); and the study transects (adapted from Melo et al., 2015).

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  • Abundance (groups/10 km) of primate species in the three study areas: Novo Paraíso (NP) settlement, Viruá National Park (PARNA Viruá) and Entre Rios (ER) settlement in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia.

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  • Relative biomass (kg/10 km) of primate species in the three study areas: Novo Paraíso (NP) settlement, Viruá National Park (PARNA Viruá) and Entre Rios (ER) settlement in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia.

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  • Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) based on primate abundance in the three study areas (V1-3 = PARNA Viruá; NP1-3 = Novo Paraíso settlement; ER1-3 = Entre Rios settlement) in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia.

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  • Biplot for the first and second CCA axes, respectively CCA1 and CCA2, based on primate abundance in the three localities studied (V = PARNA Viruá; NP = Novo Paraíso settlement and ER = Entre Rios settlement) in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia.

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  • Relative biomass of the four most hunted species in the settlements (Melo, 2015) recorded in PARNA Viruá and at the Novo Paraíso settlement in northernmost Brazilian Amazonia. Note that the values expressed on the y-axis are indicated below each graph.

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