Cebus olivaceus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cebus olivaceus
Species Authority: Schomburgk, 1848
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name/s:
English Weeper Capuchin, Ka'Apor Capuchin
Cebus kaapori Queiroz, 1992
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.

A modern taxonomic revision is urgently needed for this species. Hershkovitz (1949) is still the best source of reference for the subspecific variation. He listed five subspecies which he conditionally regarded as valid: nigrivittatus Wagner 1848, from the upper Rio Branco Brazil; olivaceus Schomburgk 1948, from the southern foot of Monte Roraima, Brazil; castaneus I. Geoffroy 1851 described from Cayenne, French Guiana; apiculatus Elliot 1907, from La Unión, Río Cuara, Venezuela; and brunneus Allen 1914 from northern Venezuela. The type localities were given for each, but unfortunately not the distributional limits. All were given as subspecies of nigrivittatus, although here we follow Husson (1957, 1978) in recognizing the type species as olivaceus. Neither Silva Jr. (2001) nor Groves (2001, 2005) consider any of the subspecies valid. They continue to be listed here, because a detailed study (genetic/morphological) of the taxonomy and distribution of Cebus olivaceus has yet to be carried out.

The principal subspecies in the Guianas is C. o. olivaceus from the southern foot of Monte Roraima in Brazil. Another subspecies has also been named from Cayenne in French Guiana, C. o. castaneus I. Geoffroy 1851, although both Hershkovitz (1949) and Hill (1960) indicated that it may not be valid. Following Husson (1957, 1978), and until further information is available, we consider just the one subspecies for the Guianas, C. o. olivaceus.

Bodini and Pérez-Hernández (1987) recognize C. o. brunneus, C. o. nigrivittatus, C. o. apiculatus, C. o. olivaceus and an undescribed subspecies as occurring in Venezuela, whereas Linhares (1998) indicates just two subspecies: Cebus o. brunneus and C. o. olivaceus.

See Fragaszyet al. (2004) for more detailed discussion of the taxonomy of the Weeper Capuchin.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Rylands, A.B., Boubli, J.-P. & Mittermeier, R.A.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A., Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread, common, and there are no major threats resulting in a significant population decline.
2003 Least Concern (IUCN 2003)
2003 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Cebus olivaceus is found in lower Brazilian Amazonia, north of the mainstream of the Amazon and east of the Rio Negro, extending north through the Guianas and into northern Venezuela (Hill I960; Napier 1976). In the northern parts of its range, C. olivaceus extends north to the Río Orinoco and west to the Río Caroni. It has been recorded on the Island of Caviana in the Marajó Archipelago (Fernandes et al. 1995)

C. o. olivaceus extends south from there throughout the Guianas it would seem (excepting a possible hiatus in French Guiana where the form castaneus might occur), but the limits to its range in Brazil are unclear. C. o. olivaceus, type locality São Joaquim, upper Rio Branco, Roraima, Brazil, is the form occurring in the Venezuelan Amazon (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987) and to the south and east it perhaps extends across the Rio Branco into Brazil, limited in the north by the Serra Parima and Serra Pacaraima, meeting with C. o. olivaceus somewhere in northern Pará or Amapá, but this is conjecture. Hill (1960) extends the range of C. o. olivaceus as far as the Rio Parú, a north bank tributary of the Amazon just above the Rio Jari. In Suriname, C. o. olivaceus is almost entirely restricted to the interior. Like Chiropotes and Ateles, it just enters the old coastal plain in a small part of western Surinam (Mittermeier 1977). Sussman and Phillips-Conroy (1995) indicated that it occurs throughout Guyana, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise for French Guiana.

Cebus o. brunneus probably occurs throughout the Cordillera de la Costa and it would seem the Cordillera de Merida of extreme north-western Venezuela (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987).

Cebus o. apiculatus is distributed throughout central Venezuela, south of the Orinoco between the ríos Caroni and Ventuari (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987).

Cebus o. nigrivittatus occurs in the Venezuelan Amazon, north of the Rio Orinoco, east into Roraima, and across upper the Rio Branco, restricted to the south of the Serra Pacaraima and the highlands along the southern boundaries of the Guyana to the Rio Paru do Oeste. It is not known which subspecies of Cebus olivaceus occurs in northern Pará and Amapá in Brazil, but possibly the Rio Jari marks the boundary between C. o. olivaceus (to the east) and C. o. nigrivittatus (to the west).

Bodini and Pérez-Hernández (1987) indicate an as yet undescribed form north of the Rio Orinoco, and C. o. apiculatus west of the Rio Caroni, extending west to the Río Orinoco.
Brazil (Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Roraima); French Guiana; Guyana; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of (Venezuela (mainland))
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is common. The density of C. olivaceus in the Voltzberg Study area in Surinam was estimated by Mittermeier (1977) to be about 4 individuals/km². At the Nourague Field Station in French Guiana, C. olivaceus is much rarer than Cebus apella. Guillotin et al. (1993) estimated densities of 2/km² and a biomass of 6.3 kg/km², compared with 29.1/km² and a biomass of 86.9 kg/km² for the tufted capuchins. The only other density data for this species comes from Guyana, where Muckenhirn et al. (1975) found a range of 1.8-22.2 animals/km² in five different localities.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In Suriname, Cebus olivaceus is for the most part restricted to undisturbed high forest, although it is occasionally seen in liana forest and mountain savanna forest as well. Although Mittermeier and van Roosmalen (1981) never observed C. olivaceus along rivers in Surinam, Muckenhirn et al. (1975) sighted four groups in river edge forest in Guyana. However, it is not clear from their description if the sightings were in marsh forest or riverbank high forest. In Venezuela, C. olivaceus occurs in habitats quite different from those occupied in Suriname. In Suriname, they were found to use mainly the lower canopy and understory, a pattern very similar to the tufted capuchins (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1981). Superficially, the locomotor repertoire of Cebus olivaceus is similar to that of C. apella, with quadrupedal walking and running, bounding and galloping, climbing and leaping being the major patterns.

The best information available on the ecology and behaviour of C. olivaceus comes from studies of a population on a cattle ranch, Hato Masaguaral, in low, seasonally dry gallery forest (14–23 m in height) in the Venezuelan llanos, pioneered by Oppenheimer and Oppenheimer (1973) and continued by Robinson (1981, 1984a,b, 1986, 1988a,b; De Ruiter (1986), Srikosomatara (1987), Fragaszy (1986, 1990), O’Brien (1990), and others. Miller (1996a,b, 1998) has carried out a study over three years of the feeding ecology and social behaviour of the species in another ranch in the Venezuelan llanos, Hato Piñero.

The species lives in multimale-multifemale groups of 8-40 individuals; generally larger than C. apella. Miller (1996b) made a special study of the effects of group size on seasonal foraging costs, intergoup and intragroup competition and aggression. Her two study groups ranged in size from 15-18 (1-2 adult males and 0-4 adult females) and 35-39 (5-6 adult males and 17-19 adult females) over two years of her study. Muckenhirn et al. (1975) counted 11 groups in Guyana which ranged in size from 6-15 and averaged 9.0 per group. Two groups accurately counted by Oppenheimer and Oppenheimer (1973) in Venezuela contained 19 (one adult male, one subadult male, eight females, six juveniles, three infants) and 33 animals (four adult males, three subadult males, eight females, 12 juveniles, six infants). Eleven groups observed at Hato Masaguaral ranged from eight to more than 40 animals (De Ruiter 1986; Robinson 1986) and the group of 22 animals studied by Fragaszy (1986) contained three adult males. The groups studied by Robinson (1988a) all had more females than males. This resulted from a bias in the birth sex ratio, higher female than male survivorship (irrespective of group size) between the ages of 3 and 7 when the males disperse, and differences in maturation rates between the sexes. Males and especially females form quite stable dominance hierarchies in the group. The highest-ranking female is dominant to all except for the highest-ranking male (Robinson 1981). Females may sometimes emigrate, and males emigrate from their natal groups usually between the age of two and eight, but do not appear to reach adult size until they are about 15, and even then may remain reproductively inactive if they have not assumed a dominant position in a new group (Robinson and Janson 1987).

A group in the Voltzberg study area of Mittermeier and van Roosmalen (1981) covered roughly 100 ha, although this was only a small portion of the group's range. Robinson (1986) recorded a range size of 275 ha (over 14 months) for his group of about 20 animals at Hato Masaguaral.

Less information on diet is available for C. olivaceus than for any other Guianan primate. They eat fruits, seeds, insects and other arthropods, supplemented by some leaves and flowers. At Hato Masaguaral, Robinson (1986) recorded that fruits, mostly ripe and fleshy, constituted the largest category of food items (56%), and included 50 species from 30 families, especially Moraceae and Rubiaceae. Fig trees (Ficus) which fruit throughout the year, were a staple almost every month. Buds, leaves and shoots were infrequent items in the diet, and were generally chewed and the fibrous remains spat out. They spend a large amount of time foraging for insects and small animal prey. Robinson (1986) recorded that they spent almost 70% of their day searching for and processing food. Foraging behaviour, including age and sex differences, is described by Fragaszy (1986). The range of animal prey is enormous, and includes snails, arthropods including spiders, millipedes, and insects (cockroaches, mantids, stick insects, termites, grasshoppers, cicadas and scale insects, caterpillars, beetles and their grubs, ants, bees and wasps), frogs and their eggs, iguanas, bird’s eggs and nestlings and even an adult ground dove (Columbina talpacoti), and squirrels (Sciureus granatensis). The relative proportions of different items in the diet changed throughout the year. Invertebrates replaced ripe fruit as the chief item in the diet as the number of fruiting species declined (November and December). The beginning of the rainy season (April, May) was marked by a flush of new leaves and an increase in phytophagous insects taken by the monkeys. The amount of fruit in the diet peaked in the late wet season, declining towards the beginning of the dry season.

Unlike the tufted capuchins which are often seen with squirrel monkeys, C. olivaceus groups rarely associate with other species although,

The data currently available are insufficient to determine if C. olivaceus has a distinct breeding season. Newborn infants have been seen in the Raleighvallen-Voltzberg Nature Reserve in December and early January, in the middle of the wet season (Mittermeier 1977). In northern Venezuela, the birth season is from May to August, during the wet season (Robinson and Janson 1987). Males reach maturity in about eight years but reach fully adult size at about 12, whereas females become reproductively active at about six years of age (Oppenheimer and Oppenheimer 1973; Robinson 1988a). Adulthood lasts about 30 years in females and 24 in males (Robinson 1988a). They give birth to single young, which maintain close contact with their mothers for the first nine months (Levy and Bodini 1986). Vocalizations and a number of behaviour patterns, including such as urine rubbing, “bouncing”, tooth grinding, and head-shaking are described in the pioneer study by Oppenheimer and Oppenheimer (1973; see also Freese and Oppenheimer 1981) and a detailed analysis of their vocalizations was carried out Robinson (1984b).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats, but they are certainly impacted by hunting in some regions.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix II. It occurs in many protected areas across its range:

Cebus olivaceus olivaceus

Tumucumaque National Park (3,882,376 ha)
Cabo Orange National Park (630,017 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)
Niquia Ecological Station (282,803 ha)

French Guiana
Parc amazonien de Guyane (3,300,000 ha)

Brownsberg Nature Park (8,400 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982; Norconk et al. 2003)
Raleighvallen-Voltzberg Nature Reserve (56,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Tafelberg Nature Reserve (140,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Eilerts de Haan Gebergte Nature Reserve (220,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Sipaliwini Savanna Nature Reserve (100,000 ha) (Mittermeier and van Roosmalen 1982)
Brinckheuvel Nature Reserve (6,000 ha) (within range)

Kaieteur Falls National Park (11,655 ha)
Iwokrama Forest Reserve (364,000 ha) (Sussman and Phillips-Conroy 1995)

Canaima National Park (3,000,000 ha)
Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park (330,000 ha)

Cebus o. brunneus

Sierra Nevada National Park
Henri Pittier National Park
El Tama National Park?
Yurubi National Park?
Yacambu National Park?
Guatopo National Park?

C. o. nigrivittatus

Yapacana National Park
Duida-Marahuaca National Park

Undescribed subspecies
Aguaro-Guariquito National Park?

Bibliography [top]

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Citation: Rylands, A.B., Boubli, J.-P. & Mittermeier, R.A. 2008. Cebus olivaceus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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