Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Atelidae

Scientific Name: Ateles belzebuth
Species Authority: É. Geoffroy, 1806
Common Name(s):
English White-bellied Spider Monkey, White-fronted Spider Monkey, Long-haired Spider Monkey
Spanish Maquisapa, Macaco Aranha, Marimona, Marimonda, Mono Araña Común, Mono Araña De Vientre Amarillo
French Atèle Belzébuth
Ateles belzebuth subspecies belzebuth (É. Geoffroy, 1806)
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy of the spider monkeys is based on Kellogg and Goldman (1944) and Hill (1962). The forms hybridus, chamek and marginatus are listed as distinct species and A. fusciceps robustus Allen, 1914 is considered a junior synonym of A. f. rufiventris Sclater, 1871 following Heltne and Kunkel (1975) (see Rylands et al. 2000). Silva-López et al. (1996) argued that Ateles geoffroyi pan was not a valid taxon. Hernández-Camacho and Defler (1989) and Defler (2004) argued for the validity of the form brunneus Gray, 1872, listed here as a subspecies of A. hybridus.

Froehlich et al. (1991), and Medeiros (1994, 1997) argued that A. paniscus is a distinct form with no subspecies. De Boer and Bruijn (1990) indicated that chamek should be considered a full species, and likewise Sampaio et al. (1993) argued that the forms paniscus and chamek should be considered distinct species on the basis of the genetic distance between them. Ateles chamek was found to be closer to belzebuth than to paniscus (see also Nieves et al. 2005).

M. G. M. van Roosmalen (5 August 2003) described a spider monkey from west of the Rio Branco (as far north as the Rio Uraricoera), north of the upper Rio Negro which he believed to be a previously undescribed species (Website , 5 August 2003; accessed 26 September 2003). This would be within the supposed range of Ateles belzebuth. Van Roosmalen reported that it is rare and heavily hunted by the Yanomami Indians. He saw them on the foothills and slopes of the Serra da Neblina and Serra do Imeri, on both sides of the highway between São Gabriel da Cachoeira and Cucuí, and near the headwaters of the Rio Padauarí, as well as at Aracá (Serra do Aracá), Deminí, and Uraricoera (including the Ilha do Maracá, where they were studied by Nunes et al. 1988).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Boubli, J.-P., Di Fiore, A., Stevenson, P., Link, A., Marsh, L. & Morales, A.L.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Listed as Endangered as there is reason to believe the species has declined by at least 50% over the past 45 years (three generations) due primarily to hunting and habitat loss.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2003 Vulnerable (VU)
2000 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (V)
1990 Vulnerable (V)
1988 Vulnerable (V)
1986 Vulnerable (V)
1982 Vulnerable (V)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Ranges in north-eastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, lowland Colombia, east of the Cordillera Oriental, southern Venezuela, and north-western Brazil, west as far as the Rio Branco. The distribution of this species is not well known, and defies easy description. In Colombia, Defler (2003, 2004) informed that it has been recorded in the piedmont and Cordillera Oriental only as far north as the Río Upía drainage in the department of Boyacá. It occurs in the region of the Sierra de La Macarena, eastern Caquetá and the Coehmaní rapids in the south-east of the department of Caquetá. It is rare west of the Río Yarí. It has been seen on the upper Río Mesay, and recorded opposite the mouth of the Río Pirá-Paraná on the right bank of the Río Apaporis, and on the lower right bank of the Apaporis at a salado (clay-lick) site near the Estrella rapids (Defler 2003, 2004). According to Defler (2003, 2004), there is no evidence for its occurrence between the ríos Caquetá and Putumayo, except in the most westerly, upper reaches. Ateles belzebuth extends south along the piedmont into Ecuador, but is evidently absent south of the middle and lower Putumayo (Province of Sucumbíos) and is restricted to the south of Río Napo (de la Torre 2000; Tirira 2007). From there it occurs throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon into northern Peru. The distribution map of Aquino and Encarnación (1994a, p.120) shows the occurrence of A. belzebuth throughout northern Peru, between the Río Putumayo and Amazonas and along the left bank of the Río Ucayali, and including the basins of the ríos Napo, Tigre, Marañón, Pastaza, Pacaya and Samiria, south as far as the Río Cushabatay, a tributary pf the Río Ucayali (Ateles chamek replacing it south of the Cushabatay). The range in Peru extends right through the Putumayo/Napo interfluvium up to the Ecuadorian border, but it would seem ends near the mouth of the Río Aguarico, and not extending into Ecuador between these rivers (Tirira 2007). Its occurrence between the Rios Putumayo and Amazonas in Peru would indicate that it occurs in the Colombian trapezium, but there is no evidence that this is so (Defler 2003, 2004). In Brazil, it is believed to occur north of the Rio Solimões as far as the mouth of the Rio Japurá, east to the Rio Negro and west (right) bank of the Rio Branco. It is absent from the interfluvium of the Rios Solimões and Negro, east of the mouth of the Rio Japurá and south from opposite the mouth of the Rio Branco. Ateles belzebuth occurs throughout the region north of the Rio Negro and west of the Rio Branco in Brazil, extending into Venezuela north towards the Río Orinoco (limited by the llanos/forest interface) and in the east to the left bank of the Río Caura (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987). It would seem that there are no known localities which connect the Brazilian/Venezuelan populations with those of south-western Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru. The occurrence of this species between the Ríos Putumayo and Amazonas-Napo requires further field research. The species has been observed at altitudes up to 1,300 m on the eastern slope of the Cordillera Oriental (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976).
Countries occurrence:
Brazil (Amazonas, Roraima); Colombia (Colombia (mainland)); Ecuador (Ecuador (mainland)); Peru; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Still common within protected areas. Klein and Klein (1976) estimated a population density of 15-18 individuals/km² in La Macarena, Colombia. Ateles population densities in various species and study sites are discussed by McFarland Symington (1988), who concluded that the main factors involve the abundance and productivity of certain key plant resources.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is dependent on high primary forest. Generally associated with terra firma clay soil forests.

Spider monkeys travel and forage in the upper levels of the forest. They spend much time in the canopy and also use the middle and lower strata, but are rarely seen in the understorey. In accordance with their use of the highest levels of the forest, they are highly suspensory. When travelling they spend more time hanging from branches, moving by brachiation and arm swinging, and climbing than they do walking or running on all fours. They are highly frugivorous and feed largely on the mature, soft parts of a very wide variety of fruits, which comprise 83% of their diet and are found mainly in the emergent trees and upper part of the forest canopy (Van Roosmalen and Klein 1988). They also eat young leaves and flowers (both especially at times of fruit shortage during the beginning of the dry season), and besides such as young seeds, floral buds, pseudobulbs, aerial roots, bark, decaying wood, and honey, and very occasionally small insects such as termites and caterpillars. They play a significant role as seed dispersers. Van Roosmalen (1985; Van Roosmalen and Klein 1988) found that A. paniscus was dispersing the seeds of at least 138 species (93.5% of all fruits species used) through their ingestion and subsequent defecation (endozoochory). A further 10 species were being dispersed by the monkeys carrying them off some distance from the tree before dropping them (exozoochory). In only 23 species were the seeds being ruined or eaten (seed predation).

Spider monkeys live in groups of up to 20-30 individuals (for review see Van Roosmalen and Klein 1988). However, they are very rarely all seen together, and nearly always to be found travelling, feeding and resting small in groups of varying size and composition, the only persistent association being that of a mother and her offspring (McFarland Symington 1990). Izawa et al. (1979) reported on subgroup sizes of Ateles belzebuth in La Macarena, Colombia. Group members will also travel on their own. Each female in the group has a “core area” of the group’s home range which she uses most. Subgroups observed by Klein and Klein (1976) were most frequently of 1-4 individuals. Klein and Klein (1976, 1977) estimated 259-388 ha ranges with 20-30% overlap for A. belzebuth in La Macarena National Park, Colombia. Castellanos (1997) estimated a home range of 148 ha on the Río Tawadu in the Río Caura basin, Venezuela. Ateles are rarely seen in association with other primates and mostly they are occasional and ephemeral, resulting from the simultaneous occupation of fruiting trees.

Field studies of the behaviour and ecology of this species have been carried put by Klein and Klein (1975, 1976, 1977) and Ahumada (1989, 1992) in La Macarena, Colombia, Nunes (1988, 1996) in the Maracá Ecological Station, Brazil, and Pozo (2001, 2004a, 2004b, 2004c) in the Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. Castellanos (1995, 1997; Castellanos and Chanin 1996) studied the feeding ecology of Ateles belzebuth along the middle and lower reaches of the Río Tawadu, a tributary of the Río Nichare, a tributary of the Rio Caura.

Six estimated birth dates given by Klein (1971) for A. belzebuth, were spread throughout the year (December, January, April, September, October and November). Spider monkeys apparently reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age (Klein 1972; Eisenberg 1973, 1976). They give birth to single offspring after a long gestation period of 226-232 days, with a minimum theoretical interbirth interval in captivity of 17.5 months, but in the wild probably as long as 28-30 months (Eisenberg 1973, 1976). Late maturation and long inter-birth intervals make it difficult for them to recover from hunting and other threats.

H&B 46-50 cm; TL 74-81 cm.
Adult male weight mean 8.3 kg (n=10), adult female weight mean 7.9 kg (Smith and Jungers 1997).
Adult male weight 7.3-9.8 kg (mean 8.5 kg, n=12), adult female weight 5.8-10.4 kg (mean 8.1 kg, n=15) (Ford and Davis 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat is heavy subsistence and market hunting for food (to the point of local extirpation). There is also some mining taking place within its range resulting in localized habitat loss. In south-eastern Colombia, habitat loss takes place due to clearance of forest for coca plantations, accompanied by fumigation of coca plantations in south-eastern Colombia that results in defoliation of contiguous forests.

In Peru, Aquino and Encarnación (1994a) indicated that it is extinct in large areas of its distributional range, and reported that "small remnant populations, subject to a strong hunting pressure, are known from the Río Alto Curaray, an affluent if the Río Napo" (p.40).

In Ecuador, Tirira (2007) recorded that it is rare near human settlements, it is hunted, and in demand for pets, but can be common in undisturbed forests where it is not molested. Defler et al. (2003; Defler 2003, 2004) consider it to be the most endangered of any of the Colombian Amazonian primates, its range being coincident with the most heavily colonized parts of the region.

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Pico da Neblina National Park (2,298,154 ha)
Maracá Ecological Station (103,995 ha) (Nunes et al. 1988))
Juamí-Japurá Ecological Station (832,078 ha) (in range)
Serra da Mocidade National Park (373,130 ha) (in range)
Niquiá Ecological Station (282,830 ha) (in range)
Amazonas National Forest (1,573,100 ha) (in range)
Roraima National Forest (2,664,685 ha) (in range)

Amacayacu Natural National Park (293,000 ha) (possibly in range: Defler 2004)
Cahuinarí Natural National Park (575,500 ha) (possibly in range: Defler 2004)
Serrania de Chiribiquete Natural National Park (1,280,000 ha) (in range: Defler 2004)
Cordillera de los Picachos Natural National Park (286,600 ha) (Defler 2004)
Cueva de los Guacharos Natural National Park (9,000 ha) (in range: Defler 2004)
La Paya Natural National Park (442,000 ha) (possibly in range: Defler 2004; reported by interview Palanco-Ochoa et al., 1999)
Tinigua Natural National Park (201,875 ha) (Defler 2004)
Serranía de la Macarena Natural National Park (630,000 ha) (Ahumada 1989, 1992)
Nukak Natural National Reserve (855,000 ha) (in range: Defler 2004)
Puinawai Natural National Reserve (1,092,500 ha) (in range: Defler 2004)

Podocarpus National Park (146,280 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Sumaco-Napo Galeras National Park (205,249 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Yasuní National Park (982,300 ha) (Pozo 2001; Tirira 2007)
Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve (403,100 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Cofán-Bermejo Ecological Reserve (55,451 ha) (Tirira 2007)

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (2,080,000 ha) (in range: Aquino and Encarnación 1994a). Soini et al. (1989) informed that it exists in low numbers in the Pacaya-Samiria basin. Neville et al. (1976) reported one sighting of Ateles chamek in the reserve.

Serrania de la Neblina National Park (1,360,000 ha) (in range)
Parima Tapirapecó National Park (3,420,000 ha) (in range)
Duida-Marahuaca National Park (210,000 ha) (in range)
Jauá-Sarisarinama National Park (330,000 ha) (in range)
Yapacana National Park (320,000 ha) (in range).

It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.8. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

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
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  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 -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ 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

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ 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

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

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Ahumada, J. 1989. Behavior and social structure of free ranging spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) in La Macarena. Field Studies of New World Monkeys 2: 7-31.

Ahumada, J. 1992. Changes in size and composition in a group of spider monkeys at La Macarena (Colombia). Field Studies of New World Monkeys 4: 57-60.

Aquino, R. and Encarnación, F. 1994. Primates of Peru / Los Primates del Perú. Primate Report 40: 1-127.

Bodini, R. and Pérez-Hernández, R. 1987. Distribution of the species and subspecies of cebids in Venezuela. Fieldiana: Zoology 39: 231–244.

Boer, L. E. M. de and Bruijn, M, de. 1990. Chromosomal distinction between the red-faced and black-faced black spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus paniscus and A. p. chamek). Zoo Biology 9: 307–316.

Castellanos, H. G. 1995. Feeding beahviour of Ateles belzebuth E. Geoffroy, 1806 (Cebidae: Atelinae) in Tawadu Forest, southern Venezuela. Ph.D .Thesis, The University of Exeter.

Castellanos, H. G. 1997. Ecollogia del comportamiento alimentario del marimona (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth Geoffroy, 1806) en el Rio Tawadu, Reserve Forestal "El Caura". Scientiae Guiainae 7: 309-341.

Castellanos, H. G. and Chanin, P. 1996. Seasonal differences in food choice and patch preferences of long-haired spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth). In: M. A. Norconk, A. L. Rosenberger and P. A. Garber (eds), Adaptive Radiations of the Neotropical Primates, pp. 451-466. Plenum Press, New York, USA.

Defler, T. R. 2003. Primates de Colombia. Conservation International, Bogota.

Defler, T. R. 2004. Primates of Colombia. Conservation International, Washington, DC, Usa.

Defler, T. R., Rodríguez-M., J. V. and Hernández-Camacho, J. I. 2003. Conservation priorities for Colombian primates. Primate Conservation 19: 10-18.

Ford, S. M. and Davis, L. C. 1992. Systematics and body size: Implications for feeding adaptation in New World monkeys. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 88: 415-468.

Froehlich, J. W., Supriatana, J. and Froehlich, P. H. 1991. Morphometric analyses of Ateles: systematic and biogeographic implications. American Journal of Primatology 25: 1–22.

Heltne, P. G. and Kunkel, L. M. 1975. Taxonomic notes on the pelage of Ateles paniscus paniscus, A. p. chamek (sensu Kellogg and Goldman, 1944) and A. fusciceps rufiventris (= A. f. robustus, Kellogg and Goldman, 1944). Journal of Medical Primatology 4: 83–102.

Hernández-Camacho, J. and Cooper, R. W. 1976. The nonhuman primates of Colombia. In: R. W. Thorington, Jr. and P. G. Heltne (eds), Neotropical Primates: Field Studies and Conservation, pp. 35-69. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA.

Hernández-Camacho, J. and Defler, T. R. 1989. Algunos aspectos de la conservación de primates no-humanos en Colombia. In: C. J. Saavedra, R. A. Mittermeier and I. B. Santos (eds), La Primatología en Latinoamerica, pp. 67-100. WWF-U.S., Washington, DC, USA.

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Klein, L. L. and Klein, D. J. 1975. Social and ecological contrasts between four taxa of neotropical primates. In: R. A. Tuttle (ed.), Sociocecology and Psychology of Primates, pp. 59-85. Mouton, The Hague.

Klein, L. L. and Klein, D. J. 1976. Neotropical primates: Aspects of habitat usage, population density, and regional distribution in La Macarena, Colombia. In: R. W. Thorington, Jr. and P. G. Heltne (eds), Neotropical Primates: Field Studies and Conservation, pp. 70-78. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA.

Klein, L. L. and Klein, D. J. 1977. Feeding behaviour of the Colombian spider monkey. In: T. H. Clutton-Brock (ed.), Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding and Ranging Behaviour in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, pp. 153–181. Academic Press, New York, USA.

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Medeiros, M. A. A. 1994. Citogenética, Evolução Cromossômica, Radiação e Especiação dos Macacos-Aranha (Ateles, Primates). Master’s Thesis, Universidade Federal do Pará, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.

Medeiros, M. A. A., Barros, R. M. S., Pieczarka, J. C., Nagamachi, C. Y., Ponsa, M., Garcia, M., Garcia, F. and Egozcue, J. 1997. Radiation and speciation of spider monkeys, genus Ateles, from the cytogenetic viewpoint. American Journal of Primatology 42: 167–178.

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Pozo R., W. E. 2004. Caracterización de los dormideros usados por el mono araña en el Parque Nacional Yasuní, Ecuador. Revista Ciencia 7(1): 79-90.

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Citation: Boubli, J.-P., Di Fiore, A., Stevenson, P., Link, A., Marsh, L. & Morales, A.L. 2008. Ateles belzebuth. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T2276A9384912. . Downloaded on 05 October 2015.
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