Leontopithecus caissara


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Leontopithecus caissara
Species Authority: Lorini & Persson, 1990
Common Name/s:
English Black-faced Lion Tamarin
Taxonomic Notes: Four species of lion tamarins are recognized (Della Serra 1951; Rosenberger and Coimbra-Filho 1984; Natori and Hanihara 1988; Natori 1989; Burity et al. 1999; Mundy and Kelly 2001; Seuánez et al. 2002). Hershkovitz (1977) considered the three forms known to him to be subspecies of Leontopithecus rosalia, and Forman et al. (1986) also questioned their validity as distinct species. Perez-Sweeney et al. (2008) concluded that there are three unambiguous clades revealed by phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA control region sequences: Leontopithecus chysomelas, L. caissara and L. chrysopygus/L. rosalia. Leontopithecus chrysomelas was found to occupy a basal phylogenetic position and to be the most divergent of the lion tamarins. Coimbra-Filho (1990) suggested that L. caissara was a subspecies, or colour variant, of L. chrysopygus. Burity et al. (1999) and Perez-Sweeney et al. (2008) concluded that this was not so, and that L. caissara is a valid species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Kierulff, M.C.M., Rylands, A.B., Mendes. S.L. & de Oliveira, M.M.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Critically Endangered due to a small population size (the total population of this species is 400 individuals, with approximately 200 mature) located in three isolated subpopulations. The species is protected by two conservation units (Superagui and Jacupiranga) in Sao Paolo and Parana states. However, these reserves offer little protection against hunting and collection for pets, and ongoing threats from infrastructure development mean that it is possible the species could decline by at least one-quarter in the next seven years.
2003 Critically Endangered
2003 Critically Endangered (IUCN 2003)
2000 Critically Endangered
1996 Critically Endangered (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Critically Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Black-faced Lion Tamarin occupies the southernmost limits of the distribution of the callitrichids. The type locality is on the north-eastern part the island of Superagüi, on the coast of the state of Paraná. Other groups have been found elsewhere on the island, except in the extreme north and some higher elevations in the south-west (Persson and Lorini 1991, 1993). These authors found L. caissara on the mainland, in parts of the valleys of the Rio Sebuí and the Rio dos Patos, limited in the north by the Rio Varadorzinho, and to the west by the Serra da Utinga, Morro do Bico Torto, Morro do Poruquara, and Serra do Gigante. Persson and Lorini (1991, 1993; Lorini and Persson 1994a,b) estimated that its entire range is less than 300 km². Four groups have been found to the north, also on the coast, in the municipality of Cananéia in the state of São Paulo (Persson and Lorini 1993). Martuscelli and Rodrigues (1992) reported four localities in the extreme south-east of São Paulo, two in the basin of the Rio do Turvo (Rio do Turvo and Morro do Teixeira, localities 1 and 3, map p.922), and two further north in the region of Itapitangui (localities 13 and 14, map, p.922), opposite the Ilha Cananéia. As a result of interviews of local people, Martuscelli and Rodrigues (1992) also indicated that L. caissara may occur further inland, at two localities: the Rio Taquari (locality 11, map p.922) and the Rio Ipiranguinha (locality 12, map p.922). The latter may refer to Jacupiranga State Park (100,000 ha, although a large part of it is no longer forested), but none of these localities have been confirmed. Field surveys by Valladares-Padua et al. (2000) in the municipalities of Jacupiranga and Pariqueraçu failed to obtain any evidence of the existence of L. caissara. However, they were able to confirm its presence between the villages of Ariri and Taquari, in the municipality of Cananéia, as had been reported by Martuscelli and Rodrigues (1992), and Valladares Padua et al. (2000) have suggested that its range may extend only a short distance north.

The distirbution of L. caissara is reviewed by Rylands et al. (2002b).
Brazil (Paraná, São Paulo)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Lorini and Persson (1994a,b) estimated a total population not exceeding 260 animals, divided into three subpopulations: that on the island of Superagüi (about 120 individuals), and two on the adjacent mainland, in the valleys of the Rios Patos and Branco (estimated at 35 individuals), and the valleys of the Rios Varadouro and Araçauba (estimated 100 individuals). As noted already, the northern limits to the range of L. caissara identified by Lorini and Persson (1990) were extended north into the state of São Paulo to the Serra do Cordeiro through the surveys of Martuscelli and Rodrigues (1992), but many localities were based on reports, which have yet to be confirmed (Valladares-Padua et al. 2000). The northernmost confirmed localities to date are those in the region Ariri, municipality of Cananeia (Rodrigues 1998), and Valladares-Padua et al. (2000) indicated that under any circumstances the populations there are extremely scarce. Both Martuscelli and Rodrigues (1992) and Valladares-Padua et al. (2000) found difficulties in surveying the region using interviews as a guide (people knew little or confused the species, felt intimidated, and in some cases were hostile).

A more recent population estimate for the Island of Superagui, based on transect work between 2000 and 2002, is 183 animals (Amaral et al. 2003); there are no recent population estimates for the mainland. The total current population is therefore for unlikely to exceed 400 animals at present.

Population densities are in the order of 1.5 individuals/km² or 0.30 groups/km² (Lorini and Persson 1994a). Amaral et al. (2003) reported an individual density of 1.66 individuals/km² or 0.38 groups/km² on Superagui.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Lowland seasonal rain forest of the Atlantic coast of Brazil with rainfall of about 2,000 mm a year, sub-xeromorphic restinga (sandy soil forest), low (8-10 m) inundated forest (caxetais), and secondary forest (Rylands 1993). Golden lion tamarins are an adaptable species well able to live in degraded and secondary forests, depending on sufficient year round food sources and foraging sites, along with the tree holes they use as sleeping sites (see Coimbra-Filho 1969, 1976; Coimbra-Filho and Mittermeier 1973).

Marmosets and tamarins are distinguished from the other monkeys of the New World by their small size, modified claws rather than nails on all digits except the big toe, the presence of two as opposed to three molar teeth in either side of each jaw, and by the occurrence of twin births. They eat fruits, flowers, nectar, plant exudates (gums) and animal prey (including frogs, snails, lizards, spiders and insects) (see Rylands 1993; Kierulff et al. 2002a).

Kierulff et al. (2002a) provide a comprehensive review of the behavioural ecology of the lion tamarins. They differ from other callithrichids in having long fingers and hands, which allow them to forage for prey efficiently in nooks and crannies and in epiphytic tank bromeliads.

Lion tamarins live in extended family groups of usually 4 to 8 individuals. Generally, only one female per group breeds during a particular breeding season. They breed once a year. The groups defend home ranges of 40 to more than 100 ha (the size depending on availability and distribution of foods and second-growth patches). In the Superagüi National Park, L. caissara have been found to use very large home ranges (321 ha), travelling from 1,082 to 3,398 m a day (Prado 1999).

The first bevioural ecological study of this study of this species was carried out by Prado (Prado and Valladares-Padua 1997; Prado 1999; Prado et al. 2000).

French et al. (2002) review the reproductive biology of lion tamarins, Baker et al. (2002) review their mating system and group dynamics (focussing particularly on L. rosalia) and Tardif et al. (2002) aspects of infant care and development.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): With a very restricted distribution and few individuals known to exist, this species is perhaps the rarest and most threatened of all the callitrichids, despite the fact that part of the island of Superagüi, along with the Ilha de Peças, was decreed a national park (without knowledge of the existence of the lion tamarins) of 21,400 ha in 1989. The threats to, and conservation strategies for, surviving L. caissara populations have been discussed by Câmara (1993, 1994) and Vivekenanda (1994). The main threats come from forest destruction and degradation due to agriculture, squatters, hunting and extractivism, especially for palm hearts, and, most seriously, from burgeoning human occupation through land speculation and tourism (see Vivekananda 2001).

A study by Dietz et al. (2000) examined inbreeding depression in small (50 or less) isolated populations of L. rosalia. They concluded that it reduced probability of long-term survival by about one-third. There is every reason to believe that inbreeding depression is likewise prejudicial to the isolated populations of L. caissara, most notably on the mainland.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on the Brazilian Official List of Species Threatened with Extinction (Lista Oficial de Espécies Brasileiras Ameaçadas de Extinção, Edict No. 1.522/19th December 1989, see Bernardes et al. 1990; Fonseca et al. 1994), and likewise on the regional threatened species list of the states of Paraná (Brazil, Paraná SEMA, 1995), and São Paulo (Brazil, São Paulo SMA, 1998). It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

Considerable efforts are being devoted to environmental education and also research, management and protection of the Superagüi National Park.

There is no captive breeding programme for the species (Ballou et al. 2002).

Bibliography [top]

Amaral, A. T., Prado, F. and Valladares-Padua, C. B. 2003. Estimativa do Tamanho populacional de Micos-Leoes-de-cara-preta (Leontopithecus caissara) na Ilha de Superagui, Guaraquecaba, PR, Brasil. In: M. M. Oliveira, D. M. Rambaldi and E. C. C. Eloy (eds), III Simposio Sobre Micos-Leoes - Livro de Resumos, pp. 64. Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgaos, Teresopolis, RJ, Brasil.

Baker, A. J., Bales, K. and Dietz, J. M. 2002. Mating system and group dynamics in lion tamarins. In: D. G. Kleiman and A. B. Rylands (eds), The Lion Tamarins of Brazil, pp. 188-212. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Ballou, J. D., Kleiman, D. G., Mallinson, J. J. C., Rylands, A. B., Valladares-Padua, C. and Leus, K. 2002. History, management and conservation role of the captive lion tamarin populations. In: D. G. Kleiman and A. B. Rylands (eds), Lion Tamarins: Biology and Conservation, pp. 95?114. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Bernardes, A. T., Machado, A. B. M. and Rylands, A. B. (eds). 1990. Fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção. pp. 65 pp.. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Brazil, Paraná, SEMA. 1995. Lista Vermelha de Animais Ameaçados de Extinção no Estado do Paraná. Secretaria de Estado do Meio Ambiente (SEMA), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit - GTZ (GmbH), Curitiba, Brazil.

Brazil, São Paulo, SMA. 1998. Fauna Ameaçada no Estado de São Paulo. Centro de Editoração (CED), Secretaria de Estado do Meio Ambiente (SMA), São Paulo, Brazil.

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Coimbra-Filho, A. F. 1976. Leontopithecus rosalia chrysopygus (Mikan, 1823), o mico-leão do Estado de São Paulo (Callitrichidae - Primates). Silvic São Paulo 10: 1-36.

Coimbra-Filho, A. F. 1990. Sistemática, distribuição geográfica e situação atual dos símios brasileiros (Platyrrhini, Primates). Revista Brasiliera de Biologia 50: 1063-1079.

Coimbra-Filho, A. F. and Mittermeier, R. A. 1973. Distribution and ecology of the genus Leontopithecus Lesson, 1840 in Brazil. Primates 14: 47-66.

da Fonseca, G. A. B., Rylands, A. B., Costa, C. M. R., Machado, R. B. and Leite, Y. L. R. 1994. Livro dos Mamíferos Brasileiros Ameaçados de Extinção. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Dietz, J. M., Baker, A. J. and Ballou, J. D. 2000. Demographic evidence of inbreeding depression in wild golden lion tamarins. In: A. G. Young and G. M. Clarke (eds), Genetics, Demography, and Viability of Fragmented Populations, pp. 203-211. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

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French, J. A., De Vleeschouwer, K., Bales, K. and Heistermann, M. 2002. Lion tamarin reproductive biology. In: D. G. Kleiman and A. B. Rylands (eds), The Lion Tamarins of Brazil, pp. 133-156. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

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Lorini, M. L. and Persson, V. G. 1994. Densidade populacional de Leontopithecus caissara Lorini & Persson, 1990, na Ilha de Superagüi / PR (Primates, Callitrichidae). Resumos do XX Congresso Brasileiro de Zoologia, pp. 145. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Citation: Kierulff, M.C.M., Rylands, A.B., Mendes. S.L. & de Oliveira, M.M. 2008. Leontopithecus caissara. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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