Primate species richness is determined by plant productivity: implications for conservation.
The explanation of patterns in species richness ranks among the most important tasks of ecology. Current theories emphasize the interaction between historical and geographical factors affecting the size of the regional species pool and of locally acting processes such as competitive exclusion, disturbance, productivity, and seasonality. Local species richness, or alpha diversity, of plants and primary consumers has been claimed to peak in habitats of low and intermediate productivity, which, if true, has major implications for conservation. Here, by contrast, we show that local richness of Neotropical primates (platyrrhines) is influenced by both historical biogeography and productivity but not by tree species richness or seasonality. This pattern indicates that habitats with the highest plant productivity are also the richest for many important primary consumers. We show further that fragmentation of Amazonian rain forests in the Pleistocene, if it occurred, appears to have had a negligible influence on primate alpha species richness.
Kay, RF; Madden, RH; Van Schaik, C; Higdon, D
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