Aotus lemurinus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Aotidae

Scientific Name: Aotus lemurinus I. Geoffroy, 1846
Common Name(s):
English Colombian Night Monkey, Gray-bellied Night Monkey, Lemurine Night Monkey
Spanish Mico De Noche Andino, Mono Nocturno
Aotus hershkovitzi Ramirez-Cerquera, 1983
Taxonomic Notes: It is doubtful that the current taxonomy provides a true picture of the diversity of the genus Aotus. Ruiz-Herrera et al. (2005) reported that cytogenetic studies have characterized 18 different karyotypes with diploid numbers ranging from 46 to 58 chromosomes. The taxonomy of the night monkeys essentially follows the revision by Hershkovitz (1983), with some modifications for the Colombian and Central American forms.

Reviewing the entire taxonomy and distributions of the night monkeys, Aotus, Ford (1994) carried out multivariate analyses of craniodental measures and pelage patterns and color, and also took into consideration chromosomal data and blood protein variations. Ford (1994) concluded that there was “good support” for just two species north of the Río Amazonas: A. trivirgatus (Humboldt, 1812) east and north of the Rio Negro, and the polymorphic A. vociferans to the west of the Rio Negro. Aotus vociferans, as such, would include all the forms north of the Río Amazonas/Solimões in Brazil (west of the Rio Negro), Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, and in the Chocó, northern Colombia and Colombian Andes, and Panama: brumbacki, lemurinus, griseimembra, and zonalis.

Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976) restricted both lemurinus (Colombian Andes, elevations from 1,000 to 1500 m up to 3,000–3,200 m) and griseimembra (northern lowlands, Santa Marta mountains, west to Río Sinú, Río San Jorge, lower Río Cauca and lowlands of middle and upper Río Magdalena) to Colombia, while recognizing the form zonalis as the night monkey of north-western Colombia (Chocó) and Panama. Hershkovitz (1983) recognized lemurinus and griseimembra as distinct, but considered them to be subspecies of a single species; he made no mention of the name zonalis, but as he ascribed Central American night monkeys to A. lemurinus lemurinus, by implication he was regarding it as a synonym of this latter form. Groves (2001) followed Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976) in recognizing zonalis as the form in Panama, and listed it as a subspecies of lemurinus along with griseimembra and brumbacki Hershkovitz, 1983. Defler et al. (2001) concluded that the karyotype of Aotus hershkovitzi Ramirez-Cerquera, 1983 (from the upper Río Cusiana, Boyacá, Colombia; 2n = 58) was in fact that of true lemurinus, and that the karyotypes which Hershkovitz (1983) had considered to be those of lemurinus were in fact of zonalis. Defler et al. (2001) and others (Defler 2003, 2004; Defler and Bueno 2003) concluded that Aotus lemurinus of Hershkovitz (1983) is in fact three karyotypically well-defined species, and that the night monkeys of the lowlands of Panama and the Chocó region of Colombia belong to the species A. zonalis, and those of the Magdalena valley to A. griseimembra, while those above altitudes of 1500m should correctly be referred to as A. lemurinus. For a review of the taxonomy of the night monkeys of Panama and northern Colombia see Rylands et al. (2006).

Defler and Bueno (2007) discussed the karyology of the grey-necked night monkeys and reaffirmed the validity of A. brumbacki, A. griseimembra, A. lemurinus, A. trivirgatus, A. vociferans and A. zonalis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Morales-Jiménez, A.L. & de la Torre, S.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Vulnerable as it is expected to have undergone a decline exceeding 30% over the past three generations (24 years) mainly as a result of habitat loss due to deforestation, expanding illicit crops, coffee and armed conflict.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:A montane night monkey, occurring in the Cordilleras Central and Oriental, from about 1,000 to 1,500 m upward to the treeline at 3,000 to 3,200 m (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1986). Following the range map in Defler (2003, 2004), it extends south as far as region of the headwaters of the rios Caquetá and Orteguaza. Tirira (2007) provisionally regards the montane night monkeys occurring in the subtropical humid forest along the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes (altitudes 940-1,800 m) as belonging to this species, although he points out (p.160) that its identity has yet to be confirmed. There are few records and all are based on sightings in the wild; the few museum specimens have yet to be studied in this regard. The possibility remains that it may be a variant of A. vociferans occurring otherwise throughout eastern Ecuador and adjacent northern Peru (Aquino and Encarnación 1994a), or even an as yet unrecognized, distinct species.
Countries occurrence:
Colombia (Colombia (mainland)); Ecuador (Ecuador (mainland)); Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of (Venezuela (mainland))
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information available. Aquino and Encarnación (1994b) reviewed population structure and densities for the genus.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Night monkeys typically occur in primary and secondary forest (including disturbed forest and selectively logged forest), submontane and montane (cloud forests) in the Andes to 3,200 m above sea level in Colombia, and possibly Ecuador (altitudes of 940 to 1,800 m) (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2003, 2004; Tirira 2007). Aquino and Encarnación (1994b) reviewed the habitat and forest preferences of the genus.

Night monkeys are nocturnal: they are most active at dawn and dusk. The only exception is Aotus azarae azarae of the Chaco of southern Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, which is cathemeral (active during night and day). They are frugivorous; their diet includes fruit, nectar and flowers, leaves, and small animal prey such as insects (Wright 1989; Fernandez-Duque 2007).

They are socially monogamous, living in small groups of an adult pair and offspring of different ages (infant, one or two juveniles and sometimes a subadult. In A. a. azarae, a significant number of adults range alone. They may be subadults that have left their natal groups or older adults which have been evicted from their groups by competitors (Fernandez-Duque and Huntington 2002; Fernandez-Duque 2004). Both sexes disperse. Males care for the infants (carry them) (Rotundo et al. 2002, 2005). Lone adults were observed by Villavicencio Galindo (2003) in northern Colombia. Night monkeys are territorial—groups occupy overlapping territories of 5-18 ha (depending on the species and location) (Wright 1978, 1981; Fernandez-Duque 2007). Wright (1994) and Fernandez-Duque (2007) review the behaviour and ecology of the genus.

Captive male A. lemurinus reach sexual maturity when 2 years old, and captive female A. vociferans and A. nancymaae first breed when 3-4 years old (Dixson 1983; Fernandez-Duque 2007). In the wild, male A. azarae reach adult weight only when about 4 years old, and age at first reproduction is about 5 years of age (Juárez et al. 2003; Fernandez-Duque 2004). A female A. azaraewas found to breed for the first time at 58 months of age (Fernandez-Duque et al. 2002). Single offspring are the rule. Wright (1985) recorded births between August and February for A. nigriceps in Peru (Manu National Park), and Aquino et al. (1990) indicated a birth season between December and March) for A. nancymaae in north-eastern Peru.

Adult male weight average 0.920±0.075 kg (n=7, range 0.608-1.15 kg), adult female weight 0.859±0.088 kg (n=6, range 0.578-1.05 kg) (Hernández-Camacho and Defler 1985). NB: This could refer to griseimembra, considered by Hernández-Camacho and Defler (1985) to be a subspecies of A. lemurinus.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Much of the habitat of this night monkey is congruent with human disturbance, including deforestation, expanding illicit crops, coffee and armed conflict.

Many Aotus in Colombia have been released from captivity outside of their range and could be hybridizing; however, very little is known of the effects of this practice.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is confirmed, or may occur, in the following protected areas:

Puracé Natural National Park (83,000 ha) (in range, Defler 2003, 2004)
Tama National Natural Park (48,000 ha) (in range, Defler 2003, 2004)

Llanganates National Park (219,707 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Sumaco Napo Galeras National Park (205,249 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Cofán-Bermejo Ecological Reserve (55,451 ha) (Tirira 2007)

It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Most urgent is the protection of any forests that provide habitat for populations in northern Colombia. Censuses of populations and habitat are needed to better assess the population status of this species.

Citation: Morales-Jiménez, A.L. & de la Torre, S. 2008. Aotus lemurinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T1808A7651803. . Downloaded on 23 September 2018.
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