Abstract # 34:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2008 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 4 (Ball Rooms A and B) Poster Presentation

Habitat disturbance and genetic variability of populations of black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) in Campeche, Mexico: implications for conservation

M. Amendola Pimenta1, V. Rico-Gray1 and D. Piñero Dalmau2
1Instituto de Ecología A.C., Km 2,5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec no. 351, Congregación El Haya, Xalapa, Veracruz 91070, Mexico, 2Instituto de Ecología - UNAM
     Black howler monkey (A. pigra) populations are currently threatened due to increasing habitat loss resulting from agriculture and cattle ranching. A consequence of habitat reduction is the loss of genetic variability within populations and the increase of differentiation among populations. We estimated A. pigra´s genetic diversity and structure by analyzing six nuclear microsatellite loci in 86 samples from four sampling sites with different degrees of habitat disturbance. Low levels of genetic diversity were found: a total of 15 alleles, an average of 2.50 per locus, and low heterozygosity values (mean H(0)=0.325, H(E)=0.340 and H(NEI)=0.338). These values are lower than those reported for other A. pigra populations from Belize (mean H(0)=0.430) and for another 4 Alouatta species from Central and South America (mean H(0)=0.414). Also, a strong population structure was observed [F(ST)=0.164], particularly in moderately or highly disturbed sites [site 1, little disturbance, F(ST)= 0.053; site 2, medium disturbance, F(ST)=0.200 and sites 3 and 4, high disturbance, F(ST)=0.145 and 0.179, respectively]. The latter suggests that anthropogenic activities are affecting genetic structure of black howler monkey populations from Campeche, Mexico. This information is crucial to assessing the impact that human activities have on the genetic structure of the remaining populations, and could be used to design effective management strategies aiming at preserving this species. Support: ASP Conservation Small Grant (2002), Instituto de Ecología AC., IE-UNAM, Elizabeth Watts Student Travel Award.