Aotus zonalis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Aotus zonalis
Species Authority: Goldman, 1914
Common Name/s:
English Panamanian Night Monkey
Spanish Mico De Noche Chocoano
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 colour, 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: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Cuarón, A.D., Palacios, E., Morales, A., Shedden, A., Rodriguez-Luna, E. & de Grammont, P.C.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Data Deficient as there is no information available on the species' population status or as to whether there are any major threats likely to be resulting in a significant population decline.
2000 Data Deficient

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Aotus zonalis occurs in the lowlands of Panama and the Chocó region of Colombia, extending south, west of the Andes, to the Río Raposo just south of Buenaventura, and including the Urabá region and eastward to the Ro Sinú, and possibly including the upper San Jorge valley to the region of Puerto Valdivia in northern Antioquia (Hall 1981). The range limits with A. griseimembra are not known. Its occurrence in Costa Rica is possible, but not documented (Timm 1988; Timm et al. 1989).

Defler and Bueno (2007) described A. jorgehernandezi from a specimen in captivity in Quindío Department, Colombia, said to be from the Parque de los Nevados on the border between Quindío and Riseralda. This locality is within the range currently considered to be that of A. zonalis.
Colombia (Colombia (mainland)); Panama
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is no population information available for this species. Aquino and Encarnación (1994b) reviewed population structure and densities for the genus.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This nocturnal species is poorly known. It is found in lowland, submontane forests up to 1,000 m in Panama and western Colombia, west of the Andes (Defler 2004). It occurs in secondary forest and plantations (Defler 2004). 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 animals 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). 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 0.889 kg (n=6), adult female weight 0.916 kg (n=11) (Crile and Quiring 1985).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Major threats to this species are largely unknown, although deforestation is known to be taking place in parts of its range. For example, in Panama forests have been converted to agriculture in an approximately 30% of its range (as described in Central American Ecosystem Map (CATIE, J. Jones, 1999). However, in Colombia, forests in less than 10% of its range have been converted to pastures and agriculture (Alba Lucia Morales pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is confirmed, or may occur, in a number of protected areas:

Ensenada de Utría Natural National Park (54,300 ha) (in range Defler 2003, 2004)
Farallones de Cali Natural National Park (150, 000 ha) (Colombia, INDERENA, 1989) In Defler 2003
Las Orquídeas Natural National Park (32,000 ha) (in range Defler 2003, 2004)
Los Katios Natural National Park (72,000 ha) (in range Defler 2003, 2004)
Munchique Natural National Park (44,000 ha) (in range Defler 2003, 2004)
Paramillo Natural National Park (460,000 ha) (Colombia, INDERENA, 1989) (could be A. griseimembra Defler 2003)
Tatamá Natural National Park (could be A. jorgehernandezi) (in range Defler 2003, 2004)

Costa Rica
La Selva Biological Reserve (possibly: Timm 1988)

Porto Belo National Park (34,848 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
Chagres National Park (129,000 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park (15,000 ha) (Timm 1988)
Soberanía National Park (22,104 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
El Copé – Comar Torrijos Herrera (25,275 ha) (in range)
Altos de Campaña National Park (4,816 ha) (in range)
Darién National Park (555,000 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
Sarigua National Park (8,000 ha) (in range)
Cerro Hoya National Park (32,557 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
La Fortuna Water Production Reserve (26,000 ha) (in range)
La Yeguada Forest Reserve (7,090 ha) (in range)
Canglón National Park (31,650 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
La Tronosa Forest Reserve (13,040 ha) (in range)
Serranias de Majé (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
Isla Barro Colorado Natural Monument (5,600 ha) (Matamoros and Seal 2001)
Camiño de Cruces National Park (4,000 ha) (in range)

It is listed on CITES Appendix II.

More research is need on this species population status, habitat and threats.
Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Palacios, E., Morales, A., Shedden, A., Rodriguez-Luna, E. & de Grammont, P.C. 2008. Aotus zonalis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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