Sapajus apella


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Sapajus apella
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Guianan/margarita Island Brown Capuchin, Black-capped Capuchin, Margarita Island Capuchin
Cebus apella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Taxonomic Notes: Silva Jr (2001, 2002) argued that the tufted capuchins and the untufted capuchins (sensu Hershkovitz 1949, 1955) are so distinct in their morphology that they should be considered separate genera. Cebus Erxleben, 1777 for the untufted group, and Sapajus Kerr, 1792 is the name available for the tufted capuchins.

Taxonomic studies have been carried out by Torres de Assumpção (1983; Torres 1988). Taxonomy of the tufted capuchins (sensu Hershkovitz 1949, 1955) here follows Silva Jr (2001), who did not recognize any subspecific forms. Groves (2001, 2005) presented an alternative taxonomy for the tufted capuchins as follows: C. apella apella (Linnaeus, 1758); C. apella fatuellus (Linnaeus, 1766); C. apella macrocephalus Spix, 1823; C. apella peruanus Thomas, 1901; C. apella tocantinus Lönnberg, 1939; C. apella margaritae Hollister, 1914; C. libidinosus libidinosus Spix, 1823; C. libidinosus pallidus Gray, 1866; C. libidinosus paraguayanus Fischer, 1829; C. libidinosus juruanus Lönnberg, 1939; C. nigritus nigritus (Goldfuss, 1809); C. nigritus robustus Kuhl, 1820; C. nigritus cucullatus Spix, 1823; C. xanthosternos Wied-Neuwied, 1826 (see Fragaszy et al. 2004; Rylands et al. 2005).

Groves (2001) and Silva Jr. (2001) differ in their definitions of the forms Cebus apella (Linnaeus, 1758) and Cebus macrocephalus Spix, 1823. Cebus apella fatuellus (Linnaeus, 1766), C. apella peruanus Thomas, 1901, and C. libidinosus juruanus Lönnberg, 1939 recognized by Groves (2001) are considered junior synonyms of C. macrocephalus by Silva Jr. (2001). C. apella tocantinus Lönnberg, 1939 recognized by Groves (2001) is considered a junior synonym of C. apella by Silva Jr. (2001).

Whereas all other tufted capuchins are considered species (following Silva Jr., 2001), the taxonomic status of the Margarita Island Capuchin has still to be reviewed. Silva Jr. (2001) did not examine specimens from the Island of Margarita, Venezuela. Groves (2001; see also Linares 1998) supposed that it was introduced in Pre-Columbian times, and found it to be more closely allied to C. a. fatuellus than with C. a. apella. Note that C. a. fatuellus is recognized as a valid subspecies by Groves, but considered by Silva Jr (2001) to be a junior synonym of C. macrocephalus.

The species was transferred to Sapajus (Lynch Alfaro et al. 2012).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor(s): Rylands, A.B., Boubli, J.-P., Mittermeier, R.A., Wallace, R.B. & Ceballos-Mago, N.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A., Rylands, A.B. & Hoffmann, M.
Listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread and there are currently no major threats resulting in a significant overall population decline that would warrant listing in a threatened category or listing as Near Threatened. Although declines need to be considered over a period of 45 years (three generations), the species is more of a habitat generalist than other species with similar life-histories. However, it is declining in some parts of its range, including southern Pará state, Tocantins state, and northern Mato Grosso.
2008 Least Concern
2003 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sapajus apella apella
This is a wide ranging subspecies in the lower Amazon. The definition of S. apella apella of course determines the geographic range. As this is still controversial, the geographic range is correspondingly uncertain. Here we follow the taxonomy and proposed distributions of Silva Jr (2001). The taxonomic arrangement proposed by Groves (2001) was discussed by Rylands et al. (2005), especially in relation to the work of Torres de Assumpção (1983). It was not possible to delimit the ranges of the subspecies he recognized, but those of the species were mapped in Fragaszy et al. (2004). The one exception is in the lack of precision in the ranges of S. libidinosus and S. apella. Groves (2001) recognized Sapajus [Cebus] libidinosus juruanus as the form occurring from the upper Juruá (type locality: Brazil: Frente a João Pessôa, Rio Juruá) extending east in a swathe through northern Mato Grosso. In the map provided in Fragaszy et al. (2004), C. libidinosus juruanus is restricted to the upper Juruá (a range proposed by Hill [1960]), and entirely surrounded by S. apella, which of course is unreasonable: it should have a range which is contiguous with other S. libidinosus subspecies. If a valid taxon, the range of S. l. juruanus should extend through northern Mato Grosso to meet the range S. l. libidinosus, but its limits are unclear. The requirements for any conservation assessment and subsequent conservation action are that the taxon is defined and its geographic distribution delineated. Silva Jr. (2001) provided a taxonomy and distribution maps. This in no way discards the taxonomy proposed by Groves (2001). Further research is needed.

The range of Sapajus apella apella described here includes that of S. apella tocantinus Lönnberg, 1939, from the south of the lower to middle Amazon, S. libidinosus pallidus Gray, 1866 from the central and northern Bolivia (as indicated by Groves 2001), part of the range of S. macrocephalus Spix, 1823 (lower to middle Amazon north of the Rio Amazonas), and the part of that of S. libidinosus juruanus that Groves (2001) proposed extended through Rondônia to northern Mato Grosso.

The stronghold of the type species is the Guianas, and Brazil, at least east of the Rio Negro. Boher-Bentti and Cordero-Rodríguez (2000) extended it to the southern extreme of the Orinoco Delta, although it is otherwise not recognized as occurring in eastern Venezuela (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987; Linares 1998). In Venezuela, it occurs in the Federal Territory of Amazonas, along both sides of the upper Rio Orinoco, its precise range being limited by savannas. The range to the west is constrained by S. macrocephalus and to the south by S. libidinosus. In the east to the interfluvium of the rios Itapecuru and Parnaiba in the state of Maranhão. In Bolivia, sapajus apella occurs south of the Madre de Dios, south to the headwaters of the ríos Mamoré and Beni, where it meets the range of S. cay occurring in southern Bolivia, the Brazilian Mato Grosso, Paraguay and Argentina. It extends into south-east Peru along the south of the Río Madre de Dios, west as far the Rio Inambari (recognized as S. a. pallidus by Aquino and Encarnación [1994]). In the southern Amazon, S. apella would be restricted by the transition to Cerrado, the bush savanna of central Brazil where S. libidinosus occurs.

Sapajus apella margaritae
S. apella margaritae lives in four forest fragments on the east side of Margarita Island in Venezuela: El Copey Nacional Park (7,130 ha) rising to 930 m above sea level; the Serranía of Cerro Tragaplata (~4,400 ha) an unprotected area rising to 680 m above seas level; Cerro Matasiete Natural Monument (1,145 ha) rising to 660 m asl; and Cerro Taguantar (~1,000 ha) an unprotected area rising to 520 m above sea level. Monkeys were reported in Cerro Taguantar in 2007 (Ceballos-Mago, direct observation).
Brazil (Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins); French Guiana; Guyana; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The nominate subspecies is widespread and common.

Population density of the Margarita Island Capuchin has not been properly estimated yet. Results of an ongoing project about ecology and conservation of the Margarita Island Capuchin will allow the determination of densities in the near future. According to Sanz and Marquez (1994), total population is only 250-300 animals. Marquez and Sanz (1991) estimated between 0.02 and 0.23 groups/hours of observation in different forest fragments. Group size was 4.5 ind/group in average. During surveys conducted in 2007, group size varied between 2 and 15 individuals (N. Ceballos-Mago, direct observation).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Tropical lowland and submontane and montane rain forest, seasonally inundated forest, mangroves and savanna forests. Sapajus apella inhabits a wide variety of vegetation types in Suriname and is probably more flexible in choice of habitat than any other primate species in the Guianas. It is common in high rain forest, low rain forest, riverbank high forest, mountain savanna forest, liana forest marsh forest (including Mora forest), swamp forest (including Euterpe symphonia swamp forest and Mauritia flexuosa open swamp forest), swamp woodland (including Erythrina glauca, Pterocarpus and Tabebuia associations) and various secondary formations, and also has been reported from high forest and white sand savanna forest, savanna scrub, ridge forest (littoral woodland) and mangrove forest (Avicennia) along the coast (Mittermeier 1977; Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1981). In Guyana, it is one of the species most often encountered along rivers (Muckenhirn et al. 1976). Arboreal quadrupeds, they are typically found in the lower to mid-canopy and understory (Freese and Oppenheimer 1981; Fragaszy et al. 2004; Jack 2007).

Capuchins are frugivores-insectivores, including wide variety of fruits, seeds and arthropods, frogs, nestlings and even small mammals, supplemented by stems, flowers and leaves. They are extractive, manipulative foragers (see Izawa 1979; Fernandes 1991). Largely sympatric with the untufted capuchins, either Cebus olivaceus or C. albifrons. The species differ most markedly in their diet through their use of palm fruits (Terborgh 1983; Spironello 1991, 2001). Mean group size for Sapajus apella is 18 individuals, with numbers of females exceeding the numbers of males (adult sex ratio of 0.85). Males disperse. Both sexes take up linear hierarchies, the top ranking male being dominant to the top ranking female. Subordinate males are often peripheral (Fragaszy et al. 2004). Zhang (1994, 1995a,b; Zhang and Wang 1995a,b) carried out a field study of the ecology and behaviour of this species in French Guiana.

In the Guianas, S. apella group sizes usually range from 10-20 animals (Mittermeier 1977; Spironello 1991; Zhang 1995b). Groups sometimes split into subgroups and forage on their own in different directions. The home range of the best known group in the Voltzberg site of Mittermeier (1977) was roughly 146 ha, and a second group, which ranged outside as well, covered 62 ha of his study area. Larger home ranges have been recorded by Zhang (1995b) in French Guiana (approximately 355 ha) and by Spironello (2001) north of Manaus in Brazil (around 900 ha).

Size: Adult male 1.35-4.8 kg (mean 3.05 kg); adult female: 1.76-3.4 kg (mean 2.4 kg) (Jack 2007).

Sapajus apella margaritae
The vegetation cover of the mountains inhabit by Margarita Island Capuchins have particular ecological interest, because they support an isolated cloud forest at an exceptionally low altitude (ca. 600 m above sea level) contrasting with an arid lowland (Sugden 1986). Home range is about 78 ha (Márquez and Sanz 1991; Sanz and Márquez 1994). The diet is comprised of fruits, insects, flowers, leaves, seeds and piths. Margarita Island Capuchins are particularly shy and cryptic, avoiding human contact probably due to the hunting pressure.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Sapajus apella apella
The Guianan tufted capuchin is hunted for food and as pets (this is the most common primate kept as pets), but is an adaptable species.

Sapajus apella margaritae
Although part of the distribution of the Margarita Island Capuchins is within protected areas (Cerro el Copey National Park and Cerro Matasiete Natural Monument), they are still threatened by hunting pressure and by habitat loss and fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation on Margarita Island is mainly caused by road construction and growth of towns. Sanz and Marquez (1994) considered that hunting pressure for pest control could be the main factor driving this subspecies to extinction in a few years. Currently, hunting pressure for pest control has been reduced only in the Cerro el Copey National Park. Capture of monkeys for pet trade in the whole distribution area of the monkeys has increased and can be currently one of the most important threats (Ceballos-Mago direct observation). Preliminary results of surveys have revealed an important national and international illegal traffic of primates. Release of monkey pets in the habitat of the Margarita Island Capuchin is another threat for these primates (Martinez et al. 2000). Such releases must be considered in terms of the level of risk of disease transmission and hybridization.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix II under the name Cebus.
Sapajus apella apella occurs in numerous protected areas, many of which are very large.

Tumucumaque National Park (3,882,376 ha)
Cabo Orange National Park (630,017 ha)
Gurupí Biological Reserve (272,379 ha)
Lago Piratuba Biological Reserve (394,223 ha)
Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve (409,578 ha)
Uatumã Biological Reserve (942,786 ha)
Jari Ecological Station (207,370 ha)
Terra do Meio Ecological Station (3,373,111 ha)
Niquia Ecological Station (282,803 ha)

French Guiana
Parc amazonien de Guyane (3,300,000 ha)
Nouragues Natural Reserve (100,000a)
La Trinité Natural Reserve
Kaw Reserved Area (76,800 ha)

Kaietur National Park (11,655 ha)
Iwokrama Forest Reserve (364,000 ha)

Brinckheuvel Nature Reserve (6,000 ha) (probable: Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Central Suriname Nature Reserve (1,600,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Coppename Monding Nature Reserve (12,000 ha) (probable: Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Galibi Nature Reserve (100 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Sipaliwini Nature Reserve (100,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Wia-wia Nature Reserve (36,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Brownsberg Nature Park (8,400 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982; Norconk et al. 2003)

Sapajus apella margaritae
Several recommendations have been proposed for the conservation of the Margarita Island Capuchin (Marquez and Sanz 1991; Sanz and Marquez 1994; Martinez et al. 2000; Sanz 2001, 2003):

•To survey accurately the natural population of Cebus apella margaritae.
•To carry out population demography studies.
•To determine accurately home range and use of habitat.
•To carry out productivity studies.
•To solve the monkey-farmer conflict for crop raiding.
•To determine the presence/absence of Cebus olivaceous in the mountains.
•To control the illegal hunting and the illegal traffic of monkeys.
•To evaluate risks of zoonoses.
•To declare a protected area including the mountains in the north part of the island, in order to facilitate the movements of the monkeys between those mountains.
•To conduct environmental educational programmes.
•To conduct genetic studies

Unfortunately, most of these recommendations have not yet been implemented. The regional office of INPARQUES (National Parks Institute) about seven years ago started to plan the increase in area of the Cerro El Copey National Park, in order to include the mountains in the north and the west of the park. Nevertheless, this plan has not been executed until now. There is still a need to develop proper management strategies for the Margarita Capuchin monkey and its habitat. There is an ongoing project of ecology and conservation of the Margarita Island Capuchin that will generate actual information about this monkey population.

Citation: Rylands, A.B., Boubli, J.-P., Mittermeier, R.A., Wallace, R.B. & Ceballos-Mago, N. 2015. Sapajus apella. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 July 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided