Demographic Variation Among Udzungwa Red Colobus in Relation to Gross Ecological and Sociological Parameters


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Abstract

We evaluated variation in group size and composition of Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum) in relation to gross-habitat and sociological parameters. The endangered species is endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains and nearby forests in the Kilombero Valley of south-central Tanzania. We counted 63 groups in 10 forests, ranging in altitude from 250 to 1,800 m. Group size ranged from 7 to 83 ( = 36.3) individuals and adult sex ratios (females/male) ranged from 1.5 to 7.3 ( = 3.5), excluding solitary individuals. Group size was influenced by several habitat parameters, including tree density, degree of deciduousness, and forest size. Groups were largest in large blocks of mature, moist, mixed evergreen and semideciduous forests, but group size is not correlated with altitude. Groups in a highly degraded forest appeared to have fission-fusion societies. The effect of habitat quality on age-sex composition of groups was most apparent in natality and less so in survivorship of adult females and juveniles. The number of adult males in groups accounted for 50% of the variance in group size and 34–39% of the variance in numbers of adult females in groups. Habitat quality affects natality more than demographic parameters do. Groups with a low proportion of adult females had greater juvenile survivorship, perhaps because of lower food competition between these two classes. We proffer hypotheses based on our study and previous intertaxonal comparisons to explain cause and effect relationships between habitat quality and demography. Finally, our study demonstrates the importance of large blocks of old-growth forest to the conservation of Udzungwa red colobus, and we make recommendations for conservation and research.

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