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Occurrences of the Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) Above 500 Meters in Southern Bahia, Brazil and Implications for Conservation Planning

Raboy, Becky E., Neves, Leonardo G., Zeigler, Sara L., Oliveira, Leonardo C.
Primate Conservation 2013 v.26 no.1 pp. 25-31
Leontopithecus chrysomelas, altitude, breeding, endangered species, forests, gene flow, habitats, home range, planning, Brazil
The golden-headed lion tamarin, Leontopithecus chrysomelas, was formerly thought to range below 300–400 m above sea level, because of changes in forest physiognomy and lack of resources at higher elevations. We document four cases (from two studies) of L. chrysomelas ranging above 500 m, and investigate the behavior of two groups that ranged from 100 to 700 m. We discuss the possibilities that 1) resources may be more abundant at higher elevations than previously thought, 2) a shift may have occurred in the species elevation-use patterns in response to forest loss and degradation at lower elevations, and that 3) golden-headed lion tamarins require low elevations for access to resources but use higher altitudes to travel between lower lying areas. Understanding exactly how L. chrysomelas uses higher elevations and the limits of its upper ranging patterns has significant conservation implications for this endangered species. Even without being able to definitively ascertain that golden-headed lion tamarins are able to settle in stable home ranges at higher elevations with adequate resources for breeding and survival, they certainly move through these habitats. We suggest, therefore, that slopes and ridge-tops should be taken into account as corridors to be preserved for gene flow in the otherwise highly fragmented L. chrysomelas metapopulation.