International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 311–331 | Cite as

Group Structure and Dynamics in Black Howlers (Alouatta pigra): A 7-year Perspective

  • Pedro Américo D. Dias
  • Alejandro Coyohua-Fuentes
  • Domingo Canales-Espinosa
  • Ariadna Rangel-Negrín


The long-term monitoring of group structure and dynamics is critical to the study of primate ecology and evolutionary processes, as well as to understand the responses of individuals to changes in their environments. We monitored individually recognized black howlers (Alouatta pigra) belonging to 11 groups for 7 yr in different habitats and landscapes in Campeche (Mexico). Our aims were 1) to describe group structure and dynamics; 2) to determine whether group structure and dynamics changed significantly over time; and 3) to evaluate which habitat and landscape-scale attributes best predicted variation among groups in structure and dynamics. Each year we surveyed the groups twice in each climatic season (wet and dry season), resulting in a total of 10,083 sampling days. Although group size increased over time, mostly as a result of moderate to high infant survival rates and increases in the number of juveniles in groups, other demographic parameters, such as the number of adults and infants per group, were stable. We observed no group takeovers involving two or more males and infrequent takeovers by solitary males; frequent disappearances of individuals of both sexes from their natal groups around the age of sexual maturation, suggesting a bisexual dispersal pattern; concentration of births in the wet season; male-biased sex ratios at birth but female-biased immature survival. Group structure and dynamics were affected by both habitat and landscape-scale attributes, but factors acting at the habitat scale had an overall higher impact on demographics. Besides reporting new life history and demographic data for this species, the results from this study suggest that black howlers may be more sensitive to habitat disturbance than previously reported.


Alouatta pigra Campeche Census Demographics Group size and composition Long-term monitoring 



This study would not have been possible without the efforts of 53 people that were involved in fieldwork. We thank all the students, volunteers, and researchers who helped with data collection. The following people and institutions granted permission to work in their properties and facilitated our fieldwork: Comisarios Ejidales de Abelardo Domínguez, Calax, Chekubul, Conhuas, Nvo. Ontario, Plan de Ayala, and Candelario Hernández Perera, Igor, Carmén Gómez and Ricardo Valencia; Ayuntamiento de Calakmul; Ing. A. Sánchez Martínez, El Tormento, INIFAP; Lic. C. Vidal and Lic. L. Álvarez, INAH Campeche; Biól. F. Durand Siller, Reserva de la Biósfera Calakmul, CONANP; Ing. V. Olvera, El Álamo. Climate data was kindly provided by CONAGUA. We thank the help of R. Mateo-Gutiérrez, S. Sinaca-Colín, C. Gutiérrez-Báez (Centro de Investigaciones Históricas y Sociales, UACM) and J. Salvador Flores-Guido (Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, UADY) in the identification of the plants. This study was supported by CFE (RGCPTTP-UV-001/04), Universidad Veracruzana, Conacyt (grant number 235839; grants i010/152/2014 and C-133/2014) and Idea Wild. We are indebted to V. Arroyo-Rodríguez for support with statistical analysis, and to F. Aureli, J. Setchell, and two anonymous reviewers for very constructive and helpful comments and suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript. P. A. D. Dias and A. Rangel-Negrín thank Mariana for being a constant source of inspiration for exploring primate behavior and ecology.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Américo D. Dias
    • 1
  • Alejandro Coyohua-Fuentes
    • 1
  • Domingo Canales-Espinosa
    • 1
  • Ariadna Rangel-Negrín
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de NeuroetologíaUniversidad VeracruzanaXalapaMexico

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