International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 46–68 | Cite as

Ethogram and Natural History of Golden-backed Uakaris (Cacajao melanocephalus)

  • Bruna Martins BezerraEmail author
  • Adrian A. Barnett
  • Antonio Souto
  • Gareth Jones


We present an ethogram for golden-backed uakaris (Cacajao melanocephalus), based on observations in the field and on a captive individual. We also provide additional observations on the ecology of the wild animals. We studied 3 free-living groups (maximum counts of 5, 15, and 26 individuals) during two wet-seasons (March–July 2007 and January–June 2008) in the flooded igapó forest of Jaú National Park, Amazonas, Brazil. The groups lived in close proximity but never mixed, because river channels separated them. Groups showed fission-fusion behavior, subgroup sizes varied within groups, and we observed 13 different subgroup compositions. The areas used by the groups were ca. 0.82, 2.35, and 2.45 km2. We defined a total of 9 behavioral categories. In the wild, the amount of time allocated to the behaviors traveling and foraging/feeding differed between months, but we found no difference in the amount of time devoted to behavioral categories across 3 periods of the day, possibly as a result of the patchy and unpredictable distribution or availability of food patches. Further, the activity patterns varied among groups, perhaps as a reflection of the different group sizes and compositions and different range sizes. We recorded 34 feeding items for wild golden-backed uakaris between January and June 2008, mostly fruits and seeds. No significant variation in the number of different food types occurred across months. We recorded 6 primate species in the study areas. The uakaris neither mobbed nor fled from any other primate species, with the exception of white-fronted capuchin monkeys (Cebus albifrons). In addition, golden-backed uakaris sometimes fled when seeing giant otters (Pteroneura brasiliensis), perhaps indicating that the otters are potential predators of the monkeys. The ethogram and behavioral data provided here increase knowledge of the behavioral ecology of the elusive golden-backed uakari, and will facilitate future comparative studies.


Activity distribution Behavior Golden-backed uakari (Cacajao melanocephalusNatural history 



We thank local field assistants Maria de Jesus Santos Melo, Eduardo Elízio de Souza, Jacó Saldanha de Souza, Ilo Jose Severino di Almeida, and Roberto da Silva, all Jaú National Park-IBAMA staff, and all Fundação Vitória Amazônica staff. We also thank all the staff at the Centro de Primatologia do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, especially Dr. Alcides Pissinate, Sonia França, and veterinarian Mariana Seabra for their support during the observation of the captive uakari. Bruna Bezerra is supported by Programme Alban (the European Union Programme of High Level Scholarships for Latin America, grant no. E06D103405BR); ORS award (Oversea Research Students Award Scheme); Faculty of Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol; a Rufford Small Conservation Grant; and an IDEA WILD grant, Amazon Ecopark Lodge and Living Rain Forest Foundation. Adrian Barnett was funded by Akodon Ecological Consulting, American Society of Primatologists, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Conservation Fund, Serviços FORT (Manaus), LSB Leakey Foundation, Leakey Trust (UK), Marapanim (Manaus), Ms. Rosie MIL Fund, Primate Action Fund (via the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation), Percy Sladen Memorial Fund, Pittsburgh Zoo Conservation Fund, Primate Conservation Inc., Roehampton University, Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society. The present study was noninvasive and complies with Brazilian law (Ibama license nos. 01/1007 Parna Jaú and 13618-1). We thank 2 anonymous reviewers and Dr. Charles Snowdon for valuable comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruna Martins Bezerra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adrian A. Barnett
    • 2
  • Antonio Souto
    • 3
  • Gareth Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Evolutionary AnthropologyRoehampton UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoPernambucoBrazil

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