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Swarthmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


The mantled howler monkey, Alouatta palliata, is one of the most commonly studied and widely distributed primate species in Central America. They have been reported to inhabit mangrove environments in Panama, but few studies have undertaken to describe their demography and behavior in these particular ecosystems. For my study, I spent 12 days studying A. palliata populations in both the mangrove and forested island ecosystems (Isla Parida and Isla Boca Brava) south of David. Seven groups were found in the mangrove environments, and 11 groups were found on the island environments. The mangrove groups were significantly smaller and at a lower population density than in the islands. They also spent significantly less time foraging and ate less fruit than in the islands. Reasons for these differences may be connected to the low species diversity and nutrient quality of food in mangrove environments, which could present an ecological constraint on A. palliata troop size and behavior. This was a preliminary study into the previously undescribed populations of the region, and more research is needed. It is important to understand the ways that primates utilize coastal mangroves, particularly because these ecosystems face threats of habitat destruction.


Animal Studies | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Forest Biology | Latin American Studies | Zoology


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