Cacajao melanocephalus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cacajao melanocephalus
Species Authority: (Humboldt, 1811)
Common Name(s):
English Golden-backed Black Uakari, Black-headed Uacari, Humboldt's Black-headed Uacari, Black Uacari
French Ouakari À Tête Noire
Spanish Mono Chucuto, Uacari-bicó, Uacarí-preto
Cacajao melanocephalus (Spix, 1823) subspecies ouakary
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy of Cacajao follows Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976), Hershkovitz (1987), Eisenberg (1989), Boubli (1994), Figueiredo (2006) and Boubli et al. (2008). The species name Cacajao ouakary has been suggested as more appropriate than Cacajao melanocephalus (A. Barnett pers. comm.) but Boubli et al. 2008 disagree.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Barnett, A.A., Boubli, J.-P., Veiga, L.M. & Palacios, E.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Listed as Least Concern as they are reasonably widespread, much of their range occurs in a relatively undisturbed area of the Brazilian Amazon, and there are no current major threats resulting in a significant range-wide decline of the species.
2003 Least Concern (IUCN 2003)
2003 Least Concern
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The range of C. melanocephalus is delimited to the south by the Solimões and Japurá rivers in Brazil, to the west by the Apaporis and La Macarena mountains in Colombia, to the north by the Guaviari River in Colombia and the Negro River in Brazil. Boubli et al. (2008) suggest a range extension to include the region between the Canal Cassiquiari (north) and the Orinoco River in Venezuela. The extension could mean that the species would be sympatric with Chiropotes, as previously reported elsewhere within the range of the genus by Boubli (2002).
Brazil; Colombia; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no precise data concerning total population numbers. Golden-backed black Uakaris have been found to be abundant during periods of high fruit availability in igapó (the seasonally flooded forest that occurs along the margins of blackwater rivers in north-west Amazonia) (Barnett 2005; Barnett et al. 2005). Defler (2001) estimated a crude density of 4.15 animals/km² at the landscape level and an ecological density (in terms of food abundance) of 12 animals/km².
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Golden-backed Black Uakaris are habitat specialists, spending the majority of the year in igapó forests, although animals may migrate seasonally to terra firme forest when fruit resource availability is at its lowest (Barnett and da Cunha 1991; Barnett et al. 2005). They appear to avoid degraded igapó (Hernandez-Camacho and Cooper 1977; Barnett et al. 2002; A. Barnett pers. comm.), and have not been reported from either secondary forest or low shrubby white sand habitats.

In igapó forests, they spend by far the greatest amount of their time in the canopy, though they may forage at all levels from the water level upwards. They have been observed descending to the ground to consume germinating seeds in the period when the igapo is unflooded (Barnett 2008). Like other uakaris, golden-backeds are specialized seed predators and the majority of their diet is made up of immature seeds (Barnett et al. 2007a; Barnett 2008). In months when immature seed availability is low, the diet may be supplemented by fruit pulp, young leaves, pith and arthropods. The majority of food species are from tall canopy trees. In addition, emergents are often used as sleeping trees (Barnett et al. 2008). Hard fruits are bitten along points of weakness, such as sutures, to open them economically (Barnett et al. 2007b).

Groups range in size from 5-40 individuals, but groups with >100 individuals have been seen – probably as a result of a congregation of several groups. As groups with 1-10 individuals have been found more frequently at times when fruits are scarce, it is possible that group size is positively correlated with fruit availability (Defler 2001; Barnett et al. 2007a, 2008). Though the species may be sympatric with bearded sakis in some parts of its range, competition may be limited by the super-abundance of some of their diet items (see Barnett et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Colombia, there is some habitat loss due to the planting of illegal crops and human settlement, but only in the northern portion of the range. In Brazil, there is some occasional hunting for food or bait (A. Barnett pers. comm.). The Golden-backed Black Uakari may become threatened if climatic changes provoked by global warming reduce the present extent of its flooded forest habitats (Queiroz and Valsecchi 2007). A number of the species eaten by golden-backeds are also used by the commercial timber industry (Barnett et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Presently, several large parks and reserves protect parts of the range of this species. In Colombia, they are protected by two large natural reserves: Nukak (855,000 ha) and Puinawai (1,280,000 ha). In Brazil, the species is protected in several areas including the 2,270,000-ha Jaú National Park and the Amanã Extractive Reserve. However, the species continues to be hunted for meat in areas, including some that are officially protected. It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

Citation: Barnett, A.A., Boubli, J.-P., Veiga, L.M. & Palacios, E. 2008. Cacajao melanocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 July 2014.
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