Distribution and Diversity of Primates in Guyana: Species-Area Relationships and Riverine Barriers

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Species-area relationships predict that there is a positive relationship between the number of species and the size of an area. It has been suggested that species richness will covary with area because larger areas have a greater diversity of habitats. Moreover, habitat diversity may operate in conjunction with riverine barriers to influence primate biogeography. Few studies have determined if and how these hypotheses relate to primate diversity in Guyana. To test these biogeographic hypotheses, I used data from 1,725 km of primate surveys I conducted in Guyana. I estimated geographic ranges for each of the 8 primate species via a GIS system. Geographic range size is a major determinant of the number of sightings of the 8 primate species. Primate species diversity is strongly negatively correlated with the number of rivers crossed moving in a clockwise pattern from eastern to NW Guyana. Interfluvial and habitat areas influence primate species diversity in Guyana. However, my data on primate biogeography in Guyana do not support the hypothesis that habitat diversity within the interfluvial areas effects primate diversity. Although the species-area relationship is considered the closest thing to a rule in ecology, researchers should be wary of too readily applying and accepting the model at all scales in biogeographic studies.

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