Publications by authors named "Russell A Mittermeier"

33 Publications

Conservation resource allocation, small population resiliency, and the fallacy of conservation triage.

Conserv Biol 2021 Jan 23. Epub 2021 Jan 23.

Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin, TX, 78704, U.S.A.

Some conservation prioritization methods are based on the assumption that conservation needs overwhelm current resources and not all species can be conserved; therefore, a conservation triage scheme (i.e., when the system is overwhelmed, species should be divided into three groups based on likelihood of survival, and efforts should be focused on those species in the group with the best survival prospects and reduced or denied to those in the group with no survival prospects and to those in the group not needing special efforts for their conservation) is necessary to guide resource allocation. We argue that this decision-making strategy is not appropriate because resources are not as limited as often assumed, and it is not evident that there are species that cannot be conserved. Small population size alone, for example, does not doom a species to extinction; plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals offer examples. Although resources dedicated to conserving all threatened species are insufficient at present, the world's economic resources are vast, and greater resources could be dedicated toward species conservation. The political framework for species conservation has improved, with initiatives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other international agreements, funding mechanisms such as The Global Environment Facility, and the rise of many nongovernmental organizations with nimble, rapid-response small grants programs. For a prioritization system to allow no extinctions, zero extinctions must be an explicit goal of the system. Extinction is not inevitable, and should not be acceptable. A goal of no human-induced extinctions is imperative given the irreversibility of species loss.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13696DOI Listing
January 2021

Turtles and Tortoises Are in Trouble.

Curr Biol 2020 06;30(12):R721-R735

Turtle Survival Alliance, Charleston, SC, USA.

Turtles and tortoises (chelonians) have been integral components of global ecosystems for about 220 million years and have played important roles in human culture for at least 400,000 years. The chelonian shell is a remarkable evolutionary adaptation, facilitating success in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Today, more than half of the 360 living species and 482 total taxa (species and subspecies combined) are threatened with extinction. This places chelonians among the groups with the highest extinction risk of any sizeable vertebrate group. Turtle populations are declining rapidly due to habitat loss, consumption by humans for food and traditional medicines and collection for the international pet trade. Many taxa could become extinct in this century. Here, we examine survival threats to turtles and tortoises and discuss the interventions that will be needed to prevent widespread extinction in this group in coming decades.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.088DOI Listing
June 2020

On a new species of titi monkey (Primates: Plecturocebus Byrne et al., 2016), from Alta Floresta, southern Amazon, Brazil.

Mol Phylogenet Evol 2019 03 26;132:117-137. Epub 2018 Nov 26.

Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Brazil.

The taxonomy of the titi monkeys (Callicebinae) has recently received considerable attention. It is now recognised that this subfamily is composed of three genera with 33 species, seven of them described since 2002. Here, we describe a new species of titi, Plecturocebus, from the municipality of Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil. We adopt an integrative taxonomic approach that includes phylogenomic analyses, pelage characters, and locality records. A reduced representation genome-wide approach was employed to assess phylogenetic relationships among species of the eastern Amazonian clade of the Plecturocebus moloch group. Using existing records, we calculated the Extent of Occurrence (EOO) of the new species and estimated future habitat loss for the region based on predictive models. We then evaluated the species' conservation status using the IUCN Red list categories and criteria. The new species presents a unique combination of morphological characters: (1) grey agouti colouration on the crown and dorsal parts; (2) entirely bright red-brown venter; (3) an almost entirely black tail with a pale tip; and (4) light yellow colouration of the hair on the cheeks contrasting with bright red-brown hair on the sides of the face. Our phylogenetic reconstructions based on maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods revealed well-supported species relationships, with the Alta Floresta taxon as sister to P. moloch + P. vieirai. The species EOO is 10,166,653 ha and we predict a total habitat loss of 86% of its original forest habitat under a "business as usual" scenario in the next 24 years, making the newly discovered titi monkey a Critically Endangered species under the IUCN A3c criterion. We give the new titi monkey a specific epithet based on: (1) clear monophyly of this lineage revealed by robust genomic and mitochondrial data; (2) distinct and diagnosable pelage morphology; and (3) a well-defined geographical distribution with clear separation from other closely related taxa. Urgent conservation measures are needed to safeguard the future of this newly discovered and already critically endangered primate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.11.012DOI Listing
March 2019

Primates in peril: the significance of Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for global primate conservation.

PeerJ 2018 15;6:e4869. Epub 2018 Jun 15.

SwaraOwa, Coffee and Primate Conservation Project, Java, Central Java, Indonesia.

Primates occur in 90 countries, but four-Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)-harbor 65% of the world's primate species (439) and 60% of these primates are Threatened, Endangered, or Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017-3). Considering their importance for global primate conservation, we examine the anthropogenic pressures each country is facing that place their primate populations at risk. Habitat loss and fragmentation are main threats to primates in Brazil, Madagascar, and Indonesia. However, in DRC hunting for the commercial bushmeat trade is the primary threat. Encroachment on primate habitats driven by local and global market demands for food and non-food commodities hunting, illegal trade, the proliferation of invasive species, and human and domestic-animal borne infectious diseases cause habitat loss, population declines, and extirpation. Modeling agricultural expansion in the 21st century for the four countries under a worst-case-scenario, showed a primate range contraction of 78% for Brazil, 72% for Indonesia, 62% for Madagascar, and 32% for DRC. These pressures unfold in the context of expanding human populations with low levels of development. Weak governance across these four countries may limit effective primate conservation planning. We examine landscape and local approaches to effective primate conservation policies and assess the distribution of protected areas and primates in each country. Primates in Brazil and Madagascar have 38% of their range inside protected areas, 17% in Indonesia and 14% in DRC, suggesting that the great majority of primate populations remain vulnerable. We list the key challenges faced by the four countries to avert primate extinctions now and in the future. In the short term, effective law enforcement to stop illegal hunting and illegal forest destruction is absolutely key. Long-term success can only be achieved by focusing local and global public awareness, and actively engaging with international organizations, multinational businesses and consumer nations to reduce unsustainable demands on the environment. Finally, the four primate range countries need to ensure that integrated, sustainable land-use planning for economic development includes the maintenance of biodiversity and intact, functional natural ecosystems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6005167PMC
June 2018

How many pygmy marmoset (Cebuella Gray, 1870) species are there? A taxonomic re-appraisal based on new molecular evidence.

Mol Phylogenet Evol 2018 03 23;120:170-182. Epub 2017 Nov 23.

Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Electronic address:

The pygmy marmoset, Cebuella pygmaea, the smallest of the New World monkeys, has one of the largest geographical distributions of the Amazonian primates. Two forms have been recognized: Cebuella pygmaea pygmaea (Spix, 1823), and C. p. niveiventris Lönnberg, 1940. In this study, we investigated if the separation of pygmy marmosets into these two clades can be corroborated by molecular data. We also examine and compare coloration of the pelage in light of the new molecular results. We analyzed the mtDNA cytochrome b gene and, for the first time for any Neotropical primate, we used a reduced representation genome sequencing approach (ddRADseq) to obtain data for recently collected, geographically representative samples from the Rio Japurá, a northern tributary of the Rio Solimões and from the Javarí, Jutaí, Juruá, Madeira and Purus river basins, all tributaries south of the Solimões. We estimated phylogenies and diversification times under both maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference criteria. Our analysis showed two highly supported clades, with intraclade divergences much smaller than interclade divergences, indicating two species of Cebuella: one from the Rio Japurá and one to the south of Solimões. The interpretation of our results in light of the current taxonomy is not trivial however. Lönnberg stated that the type of Spix's pygmy marmoset (type locality 'near Tabatinga') was obtained from the south of the Solimões, and his description of the distinct niveiventris from Lago Ipixuna, south of the Solimões and several hundred kilometres east of Tabatinga, was based on a comparison with specimens that he determined as typical pygmaea that were from the upper Rio Juruá (south of the Solimões). As such it remains uncertain whether the name pygmaea should be applicable to the pygmy marmosets north of the Rio Solimões (Tabatinga type locality) or south (near Tabatinga but across the Solimões). Finally, our analysis of pelage coloration revealed three phenotypic forms: (1) south of the Rio Solimoes, (2) Eirunepé-Acre, upper Juruá basin; and (3) Japurá. More samples from both sides of Solimões in the region of Tabatinga will be necessary to ascertain the exact type locality for Spix's pygmaea and to resolve the current uncertainties surrounding pygmy marmoset taxonomy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2017.11.010DOI Listing
March 2018

Phylogenomic Reconstruction of Sportive Lemurs (genus Lepilemur) Recovered from Mitogenomes with Inferences for Madagascar Biogeography.

J Hered 2017 03;108(2):107-119

Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, NE, USA.

The family Lepilemuridae includes 26 species of sportive lemurs, most of which were recently described. The cryptic morphological differences confounded taxonomy until recent molecular studies; however, some species’ boundaries remain uncertain. To better understand the genus Lepilemur, we analyzed 35 complete mitochondrial genomes representing all recognized 26 sportive lemur taxa and estimated divergence dates. With our dataset we recovered 25 reciprocally monophyletic lineages, as well as an admixed clade containing Lepilemur mittermeieri and Lepilemur dorsalis. Using modern distribution data, an ancestral area reconstruction and an ecological vicariance analysis were performed to trace the history of diversification and to test biogeographic hypotheses. We estimated the initial split between the eastern and western Lepilemur clades to have occurred in the Miocene. Divergence of most species occurred from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene. The biogeographic patterns recovered in this study were better addressed with a combinatorial approach including climate, watersheds, and rivers. Generally, current climate and watershed hypotheses performed better for western and eastern clades, while speciation of northern clades was not adequately supported using the ecological factors incorporated in this study. Thus, multiple mechanisms likely contributed to the speciation and distribution patterns in Lepilemur.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esw072DOI Listing
March 2017

Impending extinction crisis of the world's primates: Why primates matter.

Sci Adv 2017 Jan 18;3(1):e1600946. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Centre Suisse des Recherches Scientifiques, Université de Cocody, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Nonhuman primates, our closest biological relatives, play important roles in the livelihoods, cultures, and religions of many societies and offer unique insights into human evolution, biology, behavior, and the threat of emerging diseases. They are an essential component of tropical biodiversity, contributing to forest regeneration and ecosystem health. Current information shows the existence of 504 species in 79 genera distributed in the Neotropics, mainland Africa, Madagascar, and Asia. Alarmingly, ~60% of primate species are now threatened with extinction and ~75% have declining populations. This situation is the result of escalating anthropogenic pressures on primates and their habitats-mainly global and local market demands, leading to extensive habitat loss through the expansion of industrial agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam building, and the construction of new road networks in primate range regions. Other important drivers are increased bushmeat hunting and the illegal trade of primates as pets and primate body parts, along with emerging threats, such as climate change and anthroponotic diseases. Often, these pressures act in synergy, exacerbating primate population declines. Given that primate range regions overlap extensively with a large, and rapidly growing, human population characterized by high levels of poverty, global attention is needed immediately to reverse the looming risk of primate extinctions and to attend to local human needs in sustainable ways. Raising global scientific and public awareness of the plight of the world's primates and the costs of their loss to ecosystem health and human society is imperative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1600946DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5242557PMC
January 2017

Phylogenetic relationships of the New World titi monkeys (Callicebus): first appraisal of taxonomy based on molecular evidence.

Front Zool 2016 1;13:10. Epub 2016 Mar 1.

School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, Room 315, Peel Building, Salford, UK ; Coleções Zoológicas, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Amazonas Brazil.

Background: Titi monkeys, Callicebus, comprise the most species-rich primate genus-34 species are currently recognised, five of them described since 2005. The lack of molecular data for titi monkeys has meant that little is known of their phylogenetic relationships and divergence times. To clarify their evolutionary history, we assembled a large molecular dataset by sequencing 20 nuclear and two mitochondrial loci for 15 species, including representatives from all recognised species groups. Phylogenetic relationships were inferred using concatenated maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses, allowing us to evaluate the current taxonomic hypothesis for the genus.

Results: Our results show four distinct Callicebus clades, for the most part concordant with the currently recognised morphological species-groups-the torquatus group, the personatus group, the donacophilus group, and the moloch group. The cupreus and moloch groups are not monophyletic, and all species of the formerly recognized cupreus group are reassigned to the moloch group. Two of the major divergence events are dated to the Miocene. The torquatus group, the oldest radiation, diverged c. 11 Ma; and the Atlantic forest personatus group split from the ancestor of all donacophilus and moloch species at 9-8 Ma. There is little molecular evidence for the separation of Callicebus caligatus and C. dubius, and we suggest that C. dubius should be considered a junior synonym of a polymorphic C. caligatus.

Conclusions: Considering molecular, morphological and biogeographic evidence, we propose a new genus level taxonomy for titi monkeys: Cheracebus n. gen. in the Orinoco, Negro and upper Amazon basins (torquatus group), Callicebus Thomas, 1903, in the Atlantic Forest (personatus group), and Plecturocebus n. gen. in the Amazon basin and Chaco region (donacophilus and moloch groups).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12983-016-0142-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4774130PMC
March 2016

The importance and benefits of species.

Curr Biol 2015 May;25(10):R431-8

International Union for Conservation of Nature, 1196 Gland, Switzerland.

Humans depend on biodiversity in myriad ways, yet species are being rapidly lost due to human activities. The ecosystem services approach to conservation tries to establish the value that society derives from the natural world such that the true cost of proposed development actions becomes apparent to decision makers. Species are an integral component of ecosystems, and the value they provide in terms of services should be a standard part of ecosystem assessments. However, assessing the value of species is difficult and will always remain incomplete. Some of the most difficult species' benefits to assess are those that accrue unexpectedly or are wholly unanticipated. In this review, we consider recent examples from a wide variety of species and a diverse set of ecosystem services that illustrate this point and support the application of the precautionary principle to decisions affecting the natural world.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.03.041DOI Listing
May 2015

High proportion of cactus species threatened with extinction.

Nat Plants 2015 Oct 5;1:15142. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

Herbarium, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.

A high proportion of plant species is predicted to be threatened with extinction in the near future. However, the threat status of only a small number has been evaluated compared with key animal groups, rendering the magnitude and nature of the risks plants face unclear. Here we report the results of a global species assessment for the largest plant taxon evaluated to date under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Categories and Criteria, the iconic Cactaceae (cacti). We show that cacti are among the most threatened taxonomic groups assessed to date, with 31% of the 1,478 evaluated species threatened, demonstrating the high anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity in arid lands. The distribution of threatened species and the predominant threatening processes and drivers are different to those described for other taxa. The most significant threat processes comprise land conversion to agriculture and aquaculture, collection as biological resources, and residential and commercial development. The dominant drivers of extinction risk are the unscrupulous collection of live plants and seeds for horticultural trade and private ornamental collections, smallholder livestock ranching and smallholder annual agriculture. Our findings demonstrate that global species assessments are readily achievable for major groups of plants with relatively moderate resources, and highlight different conservation priorities and actions to those derived from species assessments of key animal groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nplants.2015.142DOI Listing
October 2015

Great apes and biodiversity offset projects in Africa: the case for national offset strategies.

PLoS One 2014 5;9(11):e111671. Epub 2014 Nov 5.

Scottish Primate Research Group, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom.

The development and private sectors are increasingly considering "biodiversity offsets" as a strategy to compensate for their negative impacts on biodiversity, including impacts on great apes and their habitats in Africa. In the absence of national offset policies in sub-Saharan Africa, offset design and implementation are guided by company internal standards, lending bank standards or international best practice principles. We examine four projects in Africa that are seeking to compensate for their negative impacts on great ape populations. Our assessment of these projects reveals that not all apply or implement best practices, and that there is little standardization in the methods used to measure losses and gains in species numbers. Even if they were to follow currently accepted best-practice principles, we find that these actions may still fail to contribute to conservation objectives over the long term. We advocate for an alternative approach in which biodiversity offset and compensation projects are designed and implemented as part of a National Offset Strategy that (1) takes into account the cumulative impacts of development in individual countries, (2) identifies priority offset sites, (3) promotes aggregated offsets, and (4) integrates biodiversity offset and compensation projects with national biodiversity conservation objectives. We also propose supplementary principles necessary for biodiversity offsets to contribute to great ape conservation in Africa. Caution should still be exercised, however, with regard to offsets until further field-based evidence of their effectiveness is available.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111671PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221092PMC
June 2015

Primate taxonomy: species and conservation.

Evol Anthropol 2014 Jan-Feb;23(1):8-10

IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, Conservation International, Arlington, VA, USA.

Primatology as a discrete branch of science involving the study of primate behavior and ecology took off in the 1960s after discovery of the importance of primates as models for biomedical research and the realization that primates provide insights into the evolutionary history of humans. Osman Hill's unfortunately incomplete monograph series on the comparative anatomy and taxonomy of the primates(1) and the Napiers' 1967 A Handbook of Living Primates(2) recorded the world's view of primate diversity at this time. This taxonomy remained the baseline for nearly three decades, with the diversity of each genus being represented by some species, but extensively as subspecies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/evan.21387DOI Listing
October 2014

Global priorities for marine biodiversity conservation.

PLoS One 2014 8;9(1):e82898. Epub 2014 Jan 8.

Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America.

In recent decades, many marine populations have experienced major declines in abundance, but we still know little about where management interventions may help protect the highest levels of marine biodiversity. We used modeled spatial distribution data for nearly 12,500 species to quantify global patterns of species richness and two measures of endemism. By combining these data with spatial information on cumulative human impacts, we identified priority areas where marine biodiversity is most and least impacted by human activities, both within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). Our analyses highlighted places that are both accepted priorities for marine conservation like the Coral Triangle, as well as less well-known locations in the southwest Indian Ocean, western Pacific Ocean, Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, and within semi-enclosed seas like the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. Within highly impacted priority areas, climate and fishing were the biggest stressors. Although new priorities may arise as we continue to improve marine species range datasets, results from this work are an essential first step in guiding limited resources to regions where investment could best sustain marine biodiversity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0082898PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3885410PMC
September 2014

Co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 May 7;109(21):8032-7. Epub 2012 May 7.

Department of Landscape Architecture, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.

As the world grows less biologically diverse, it is becoming less linguistically and culturally diverse as well. Biologists estimate annual loss of species at 1,000 times or more greater than historic rates, and linguists predict that 50-90% of the world's languages will disappear by the end of this century. Prior studies indicate similarities in the geographic arrangement of biological and linguistic diversity, although conclusions have often been constrained by use of data with limited spatial precision. Here we use greatly improved datasets to explore the co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in regions containing many of the Earth's remaining species: biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas. Results indicate that these regions often contain considerable linguistic diversity, accounting for 70% of all languages on Earth. Moreover, the languages involved are frequently unique (endemic) to particular regions, with many facing extinction. Likely reasons for co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity are complex and appear to vary among localities, although strong geographic concordance between biological and linguistic diversity in many areas argues for some form of functional connection. Languages in high biodiversity regions also often co-occur with one or more specific conservation priorities, here defined as endangered species and protected areas, marking particular localities important for maintaining both forms of diversity. The results reported in this article provide a starting point for focused research exploring the relationship between biological and linguistic-cultural diversity, and for developing integrated strategies designed to conserve species and languages in regions rich in both.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1117511109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3361428PMC
May 2012

The impact of conservation on the status of the world's vertebrates.

Science 2010 Dec 26;330(6010):1503-9. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

IUCN SSC Species Survival Commission, c/o United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, UK.

Using data for 25,780 species categorized on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, we present an assessment of the status of the world's vertebrates. One-fifth of species are classified as Threatened, and we show that this figure is increasing: On average, 52 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move one category closer to extinction each year. However, this overall pattern conceals the impact of conservation successes, and we show that the rate of deterioration would have been at least one-fifth again as much in the absence of these. Nonetheless, current conservation efforts remain insufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss in these groups: agricultural expansion, logging, overexploitation, and invasive alien species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1194442DOI Listing
December 2010

The range of the golden-mantle tamarin, Saguinus tripartitus (Milne-Edwards, 1878): distributions and sympatry of four tamarins in Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru [corrected].

Primates 2011 Jan 29;52(1):25-39. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22202, USA.

A detailed understanding of the range of the golden-mantle tamarin, Saguinus tripartitus (Milne Edwards, 1878), in Amazonian Peru and Ecuador is of particular relevance, not only because it is poorly known but also because it was on the basis of its supposed sympatry with the saddleback tamarin (S. fuscicollis lagonotus) that Thorington (Am J Primatol 15:367-371, 1988) argued that it is a distinct species rather than a saddleback tamarin subspecies, as was believed by Hershkovitz (Living new world monkeys, vol I. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1977). A number of surveys have been carried out since 1988 in the supposed range of S. tripartitus, in both Ecuador and Peru. Here we summarize and discuss these issues and provide a new suggestion for the geographic range of this species; that is, between the ríos Napo and Curaray in Peru and extending east into Ecuador. We also review current evidence for the distributions of Spix's black-mantle tamarin (S. nigricollis nigricollis), Graells' black-mantle tamarin (S. n. graellsi), and the saddleback tamarin (S. fuscicollis lagonotus), which are also poorly known, and examine the evidence regarding sympatry between them. We conclude that despite the existence of a number of specimens with collecting localities that indicate overlap in their geographic ranges, the fact that the four tamarins are [corrected] of similar size and undoubtedly very similar in their feeding habits militates strongly against the occurrence of sympatry among them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10329-010-0217-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018295PMC
January 2011

Warfare in biodiversity hotspots.

Conserv Biol 2009 Jun 19;23(3):578-87. Epub 2009 Feb 19.

Human Ecosystems Study Group, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA.

Conservation efforts are only as sustainable as the social and political context within which they take place. The weakening or collapse of sociopolitical frameworks during wartime can lead to habitat destruction and the erosion of conservation policies, but in some cases, may also confer ecological benefits through altered settlement patterns and reduced resource exploitation. Over 90% of the major armed conflicts between 1950 and 2000 occurred within countries containing biodiversity hotspots, and more than 80% took place directly within hotspot areas. Less than one-third of the 34 recognized hotspots escaped significant conflict during this period, and most suffered repeated episodes of violence. This pattern was remarkably consistent over these 5 decades. Evidence from the war-torn Eastern Afromontane hotspot suggests that biodiversity conservation is improved when international nongovernmental organizations support local protected area staff and remain engaged throughout the conflict. With biodiversity hotspots concentrated in politically volatile regions, the conservation community must maintain continuous involvement during periods of war, and biodiversity conservation should be incorporated into military, reconstruction, and humanitarian programs in the world's conflict zones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01166.xDOI Listing
June 2009

The status of the world's land and marine mammals: diversity, threat, and knowledge.

Science 2008 Oct;322(5899):225-30

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Programme, IUCN, 28 Rue Mauverney, 1196 Gland, Switzerland.

Knowledge of mammalian diversity is still surprisingly disparate, both regionally and taxonomically. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the conservation status and distribution of the world's mammals. Data, compiled by 1700+ experts, cover all 5487 species, including marine mammals. Global macroecological patterns are very different for land and marine species but suggest common mechanisms driving diversity and endemism across systems. Compared with land species, threat levels are higher among marine mammals, driven by different processes (accidental mortality and pollution, rather than habitat loss), and are spatially distinct (peaking in northern oceans, rather than in Southeast Asia). Marine mammals are also disproportionately poorly known. These data are made freely available to support further scientific developments and conservation action.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1165115DOI Listing
October 2008

Cost-effective global conservation spending is robust to taxonomic group.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008 Apr 14;105(17):6498-501. Epub 2008 Apr 14.

The Ecology Center, School of Integrative Biology and Department of Mathematics, University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072, Australia.

Priorities for conservation investment at a global scale that are based on a single taxon have been criticized because geographic richness patterns vary taxonomically. However, these concerns focused only on biodiversity patterns and did not consider the importance of socioeconomic factors, which must also be included if conservation funding is to be allocated efficiently. In this article, we create efficient global funding schedules that use information about conservation costs, predicted habitat loss rates, and the endemicity of seven different taxonomic groups. We discover that these funding allocation schedules are less sensitive to variation in taxon assessed than to variation in cost and threat. Two-thirds of funding is allocated to the same regions regardless of the taxon, compared with only one-fifth if threat and cost are not included in allocation decisions. Hence, if socioeconomic factors are considered, we can be more confident about global-scale decisions guided by single taxonomic groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0710705105DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2359771PMC
April 2008

Hotspots and the conservation of evolutionary history.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2002 Feb;99(4):2067-71

Department of Biology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328, USA.

Species diversity is unevenly distributed across the globe, with terrestrial diversity concentrated in a few restricted biodiversity hotspots. These areas are associated with high losses of primary vegetation and increased human population density, resulting in growing numbers of threatened species. We show that conservation of these hotspots is critical because they harbor even greater amounts of evolutionary history than expected by species numbers alone. We used supertrees for carnivores and primates to estimate that nearly 70% of the total amount of evolutionary history represented in these groups is found in 25 biodiversity hotspots.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.251680798DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC122320PMC
February 2002

Use of neotropical and Malagasy primate species in biomedical research.

Am J Primatol 1994 ;34(1):73-80

Conservation International, Washigton, District of Columbia.

There are 16 genera with 87 species of Neotropical primates, of which 18 (20.7%) are endangered. Only a handful of Neotropical species are utilized in biomedical research, and, of these, none are currently endangered. The few species utilized in biomedicine that are threatened in the wild are now bred largely from captive colonies. In Madagascar, there are 14 genera and 32 species, none of which are utilized widely in biomedical research. The current position should not induce complacency, as it presents an opportunity. Where knowledge is being gained, in laboratories and zoos, concerning the reproduction, genetics, social organization, behavior, and diseases of primates, it is vital that the relevant knowledge be transferred as far as possible to improve management of the same or related species in the field. Challenges for the future will require action plans for species and for habitats. There is a need for sound scientific knowledge on which to base such plans. In addition, the technological advances developed in laboratories, such as non-invasive assays, assisted reproduction, genetic profiles, and vaccines, are likely to play a growing part in future conservation programs. Finally, knowledge gained from field studies can greatly improve the care and management of species in captivity. Greater cooperation and more efficient mechanisms of communication between laboratory and field, zoos and the wild, and the many scientific disciplines involved are vital to ensure that global primate diversity is maintained. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajp.1350340112DOI Listing
January 1994
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