Tarsius tarsier 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Tarsiidae

Scientific Name: Tarsius tarsier (Erxleben, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Spectral Tarsier, Eastern Tarsier, Sulawesi Tarsier
French Tarsier des Célèbes
Tarsius buffonii Link, 1795
Tarsius daubentonii Fischer, 1804
Tarsius fuscomanus Fischer, 1804
Tarsius fuscus ischer, 1804
Tarsius macrotarsos Schreber, 1778
Tarsius pallassii É. Geoffroy Saint-.Hilaire, 1796
Tarsius podje Kerr, 1792
Tarsius spectrum Pallas, 1778
Tarsius spectrum (Pallas, 1779)
Taxonomic Notes: This taxon was formerly known as T. spectrum, but, Brandon-Jones et al. (2004) argued that T. spectrum is a junior synonym of T. tarsier, and this has since been confirmed by Groves (2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Shekelle, M. & Salim, A.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Based on habitat loss alone, this species is considered Vulnerable in that at least 30% of the habitat has been converted in the past 20 years (approximately 3 generations). From 1990 to 2000, about 15-26% of the forest habitat on the island was converted to agriculture (A. Salim pers. comm.), and since that time at least an additional 10% has been lost. This listing is further justified by the fact that the taxon will be subdivided in the future and that some of the populations will have much greater threats than others.

T. tarsier, sensu lato, has an estimated extent of occurrence of 149,136 km2. Within this are 1,782 km2 of old growth forest and 33,980 km2 of good habitat, yielding an estimate of 35,852 km2 of tarsier habitat that is considered good or better. Additionally, there are 27,528 km2 of fair habitat. This produces an estimate of 63,380 km2 of potentially usable tarsier habitat. Assessed in the broad sense, T. tarsier is easily the least endangered tarsier found in Wallacea. On the other hand, T. tarsier, sensu stricto is sympatric with Macaca maura, and by analogy is likely to be highly threatened. Thus, under the current taxonomy T. tarsier should be considered to have a conservation status of no greater than Vulnerable and possibly as little as Least Concern, but in the more restricted sense it would likely be a candidate for Critically Endangered. This example illustrates the urgent need for more taxonomic work on Sulawesian tarsiers. The problem is not trivial, since at least 17 potentially new taxa have been discovered within the population of tarsiers that Niemitz (1984) classified as a single subspecies. This is particularly true since, owing to the conservation threats to some of the smaller populations with restricted ranges, there is the possibility that they may go extinct before they have even been named. This is turn argues in favor of the most conservative conservation estimate that can be justified for T. tarsier.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:By definition, T. tarsier is the rump taxon of tarsiers that remain in the Sulawesi biogeographic region, after excluding T. sangirensis, T. pumilus, T. dentatus, T. pelengensis, and T. lariang. This leaves T. tarsier, sensu lato, with an unlikely distribution that includes Sulawesi, Buton, Muna, Kabaena, Selayar, and the Togian Islands, below 1,800 m (with an actual vertical distribution that likely stops somewhere between 1,100-1,500 m), except those portions of Sulawesi that lie within the ranges of T. dentatus and T. lariang. As discussed by Brandon-Jones et al. (2004), this is distribution is improbably disjunct. It is more likely that this population is subdivided into numerous insular and parapatric species, as hypothesized by Shekelle and Leksono (2004) and Brandon-Jones et al. (2004).
Countries occurrence:
Indonesia (Sulawesi)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Within T. tarsier, sensu lato, the best studied population comes from Tangkoko, which is at the extreme northeast peninsula of Sulawesi, whereas Makassar, the type locality of T. tarsier sensu stricto, is at the extreme southwestern peninsula, and has not been the subject of systematic study. Population density estimates at Tangkoko are 70/km2 (MacKinnon and MacKinnon 1980) and 156/km2 (Gursky 1997). Merker (2003) estimated population densities for T. dentatus in a variety of pristine and human disturbed habitats near Kamarora, on the edge of Lore Lindu National Park. The values he calculated were 270/km2 in pristine habitat, 190/km2 for slightly disturbed, 130/km2 for moderate disturbance, and 45/km2 in heavily disturbed habitat.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Tarsius tarsier sensu stricto has not been the subject of systematic study, but by analogy with wild tarsier populations studied at Tangkoko and with T. dentatus at Lore Lindu National Park, it is expected that this taxon is found in primary, secondary and mangrove forests, forest gardens, and a variety of other habitats of varying degrees of human disturbance that provide adequate shrubby cover. It shows extreme adaptations for vertical clinging and leaping (VCL) in the understory of suitable tropical habitats, often 2 meters or less from the ground. Nocturnal social primates, they likely live in small, monogamous or polygamous groupings of 2-6. The home range is believed to be less than one hectare. Its diet is 100% live animal prey, mostly insects with some small vertebrates.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Major threats include habitat loss due to agriculture, illegal logging, mining of limestone for cement manufacture, agricultural pesticides, and predation by domestic animals (dogs and cats). Some animals are entering the pet trade (particularly from North Sulawesi, around Tankoko). Although there has been extensive loss of habitat, this species, however, has demonstrated some tolerance to forest conversion. Although seemingly among the least threatened of tarsiers owing to its relatively wide distribution, the possible existence of undescribed cryptic species makes it likely that some populations are more threatened than others. This species should be reassessed upon further taxonomic revision.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Tarsiers are protected by international treaties, including CITES Appendix II, as well as by national law. Many portions of the range of this taxon are within conservation areas, but there needs to be improved management of these areas to ensure the continued survival of the species. Public education to overcome the misconception that tarsiers are crop pests would be a step forward in improving conservation measures. Indeed, the species might actually be beneficial to crops, as they eat, and may even have a dietary preference for, some of the real crop pests such as large grasshoppers.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.7. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Felis catus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Canis familiaris ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Brandon-Jones, D., Eudey, A. A., Geissman, T., Groves, C. P., Melnick, D. J., Morales, J. C., Shekelle, M. and Stewart, C. B. 2004. Asian primate classification. International Journal of Primatology 25(1): 97–164.

Groves, C.P. 1998. Systematics of tarsiers and lorises. Primates 39(1): 13-27.

Groves C.P. 2001. Primate Taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Groves, C.P. 2005. Order Primates. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 111-184. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Gursky, S. 1995. Group size and composition in the spectral tarsier Tarsius spectrum: implications for social organization. Tropical Biodiversity 3(1): 57-62.

Gursky, S. 1997. Modeling maternal time budget: the impact of lactation and infant transport on the time budget of the Spectral tarsier, Tarsius spectrum. Ph.D. Thesis, State University of New York.

Gursky, S. 1998. Conservation status of the spectral tarsier Tarsius spectrum: population density and home range size. Folia Primatologica 69(1): 191-203.

Gursky, S. 1998. The conservation status of two Sulawesian tarsier species: Tarsius spectrum and Tarsius dianae. Primate Conservation 18: 88–91.

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Mackinnon, J. and Mackinnon, K. 1980. The behaviour of wild spectral tarsiers. International Journal of Primatology 1(4): 361 – 379.

Merker, S. 2003. Vom Aussterben bedroht oder anpassungsfähig? Der Koboldmaki Tarsius dianae in den Regenw¨aldern Sulawesis. PhD Dissertation, University of Gottingen.

Niemitz, C. 1984. Taxonomy and distribution of the genus Tarsius Storr, 1780. In: C. Niemitz (ed.), Biology of Tarsiers, pp. 1–16. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, New York, USA.

Shekelle, M. and Leksono, S. M. 2004. Rencana konservasi di Pulau Sulawesi: dengan menggunakan Tarsius sebagai flagship species. Biota 9(1): 1-10.

Citation: Shekelle, M. & Salim, A. 2008. Tarsius tarsier. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T21491A9288932. . Downloaded on 22 July 2018.
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