Cebus albifrons


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cebus albifrons
Species Authority: (Humboldt, 1812)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name/s:
English White-fronted Capuchin, Shock-headed Capuchin
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 is referable to the untufted group, and Sapajus Kerr, 1792 is the name available for the tufted capuchins.

Hershkovitz (1949) listed thirteen subspecies of Cebus albifrons (Humboldt, 1812) as follows: C. albifrons albifrons Humboldt, 1812, from the banks of the Orinoco, near the mouth of the Río Ventuari; C. a. hypoleucus Humboldt, 1812, from the Río Sinu, Bolívar, Colombia; C. a. malitiosus Elliot, 1904, from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia; C. a. cesarae Hershkovitz, 1949, from the Río Cesar, Magdalena valley, Colombia; C. a. pleei Hershkovitz, 1949, from Mompós, west bank of the Río Magdalena, at the base of the northern extremity of the Cordillera Central, Colombia; C. a. versicolor Pucheran, 1917, from the middle Río Magdalena, Colombia; C. a. leucocephalus Gray, 1865, considered by Hershkovitz to be from the Rio Lebrija, Santander, Colombia; C. a. adustus Hershkovitz, 1949, from the eastern base of the Sierra de Perijá in Venezuela and Colombia; C. a. unicolor Spix, 1823, from the Rio Tefé, Amazonas, Brazil; C. albifrons yuracus Hershkovitz, 1949, from the Ríos Marañón and Napo, eastern Ecuador and northern Peru; C. a. cuscinus Gray 1901, from the upper Río Madre de Dios, Peru; C. a. aequatorialis Allen, 1921, from north-western Ecuador (and probably also the Tumbes region in northern Peru [Encarnación and Cook 1998]); and C. a. trinitatis Von Pusch 1941, from Trinidad. Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976) examined those proposed by Hershkovitz (1949) and came to the following conclusions. 1. C. a. malitiosus is a well-defined subspecies of the northern slopes of the Santa Marta Mountains. 2. C. a. cesarae, light coloured, is a well-defined subspecies occurring in the Department of Magdalena, southward from Ciénaga Grande, and the lowlands of the Department of Cesar, north to the deciduous and gallery forests of the Río Ranchería, Department of Guajira. 3. C. a. versicolor is a complex of forms from the Cauca-Magdalena interfluvium, including, besides C. a. versicolor (intermediate phase), C. a. leucocephalus (dark phase) and C. a. pleei (light phase). 4. C. a. adustus probably occurs in piedmont forests of western Arauca, the northern tip of Boyacá and north Santander, besides the Lake Maracaibo region and upper Apure basin of Venezuela. 5. C. a. unicolor, widespread in the upper Amazon, is very similar to the type species, and a junior synonym of C. a. albifrons (confirmed with further study [Defler and Hernández-Camacho 2002]).

Groves (2001, 2005), influenced by Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976), reduced the number of subspecies to six: C. albifrons albifrons, C. a. cuscinus (yuracus as a junior synonym), C. a. unicolor, C. a. trinitatis, C. a. aequatorialis, and C. a. versicolor (leucocephalus, malitiosus, adustus, cesarae and pleei as synonyms). Groves (2001) considered that the differences between cesarae and pleei were insufficient to separate them. Silva Jr. (2001) did not recognize any subspecific variation in Cebus albifrons.

Groves (2001, 2005) listed Cebus albifrons unicolor Spix, 1823. Defler and Hernández-Camacho (2002) established a neotype for C. a. albifrons, and argued that C. a. unicolor was a junior synonym (see also Defler 2004).

Defler (2004) listed and described five subspecies for mainland Colombia: 1) Cebus albifrons albifrons (Humboldt, 1812) (C. a. unicolor a synonym), 2) Cebus albifrons yuracus Hershkovitz, 1949 (considered a synonym of C. a. cuscinus Thomas, 1901, by Groves [2001]); 3) Cebus albifrons malitiosus Elliot, 1909 (considered a synonym of C. a. versicolor Pucheran, 1845, by Groves [2001]), Cebus albifrons cesarae Hershkovitz, 1949 (considered a synonym of C. a. versicolor Pucheran, 1845, by Groves [2001]), Cebus albifrons versicolor Pucheran, 1845 (with C. a. leucocephalus Gray 1865 and C. a. pleei Hershkovitz, 1949, as synonyms).

Summary: This taxonomic listing includes Cebus albifrons albifrons (Humboldt, 1812) (recognized by Groves 2001, 2005; Defler 2004); Cebus albifrons cuscinus Thomas, 1901 (recognized by Groves 2001, 2005, and listed as C. a. yuracus Hershkovitz, 1949 by Defler 2004); Cebus albifrons cesarae Hershkovitz, 1949 (recognized by Defler 2004, but not Groves 2001, 2005); Cebus albifrons malitiosus Elliot, 1909 (recognized by Defler 2004, but not Groves 2001, 2005); Cebus albifrons versicolor Pucheran, 1845 (recognized by Groves 2001, 2005; Defler 2004); Cebus albifrons trinitatis Von Pusch, 1941 (recognized by Groves 2001, 2005) and Cebus albifrons aequatorialis Allen, 1914 (recognized by Groves 2001, 2005). This last is very distinctive and possibly a valid species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: de la Torre, S., Morales, A. L., Link, A. & Cornejo, F.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Least Concern due to its wide range, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be undergoing a decline that would warrant listing in a threatened category.
2003 Least Concern (IUCN 2003)
2003 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Cebus albifrons extends from northern coastal Colombia (C. a. malitiosus) along the northern slopes of the Sierra Santa Marta, south the Río Magdalena valley into the Department of Tolima (exact southern limit unclear) and the lower Río Cauca valley to the eastern parts of central Antioquia and southern parts of the Department of Sucre in the west (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2004). It occurs in western Ecuador and extreme north-eastern Peru and from the eastern slopes of the Andes in Peru and Ecuador to the Venezuelan Amazon, south through eastern Peru, east to the Rio Tapajós in Brazil, and south into northern and central Bolivia.

Cebus albifrons albifrons. (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela)
In Colombia, Defler (2004) indicated that C. a. albifrons is the form occurring in the Department of Arauca (south of the Río Arauca) and also in Vichada between the ríos Meta and Tuparro. A population also occurs between the upper reaches of the ríos Vaupés and Isan in the Department of Vaupes (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976). Its occurrence in other parts of central Colombia, east of the Cordillera Oriental is otherwise supposed but not yet ascertained. Cebus a. albifrons occurs throughout the Colombian Amazon north of the Rio Napo and east of the Río Ucayali in Peru south as far as right bank of the upper Río Purus (Aquino and Encarnación 1994). It occurs in the Venezuelan Amazon, south into Brazil into the states of Amazonas and Roraima, along the right (west) banks of the Rios Branco and Negro, and further east south of the Rio Amazonas as far as the Rio Tapajós, south through the Madeira-Tapajós interfluvium to the north-west Mato Grosso and northern Rondônia, extending south of the Madre de Dios, across the Río Beni basin to Río Mamoré-Guaporé to about 17ºS (Brown and Rumiz 1986; Anderson 1997). The range limits in the southern part of the distributions of C. a .cuscinus and C. a. albifrons are poorly defined.

Cebus albifrons cuscinus. (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru)
This capuchin (here considered a senior synonym of C. albifrons yuracus, following Groves [2001]) occurs south of the Río Guamés in Colombia according to Hernández-Camacho and Cooper (1976) and Defler (2004). However, they place C. albifrons albifrons between the Rios Putumayo and Amazonas in the Colombian trapezium. Aquino and Encarnación (1994), on the other hand, regard the form between the Napo and Putumayo to be C. a. yuracus (= cuscinus). So, the identity of the White-fronted Capuchin between the Napo and Putumayo is confused. A provisional hypothesis would be that that, from the Rio Guamés, C. a. cuscinus south of the Rio Aguarico in Ecuador and south of the Río Napo as far as the Amazonas, in Peru. It extends south along the left (west) bank of the Río Ucayali, occurring along south (right) bank of the Purus to the Rio Acre and taking in the far north-west corner of Bolivia., north of the Río Madre de Dios (Brown and Rumiz 1986; Aquino and Encarnacíon 1994; Anderson 1997). The range limits in the southern part of the distributions of C. a .cuscinus and C. a. albifrons are poorly defined.

Cebus albifrons cesarae. (Colombia)
Cebus a. cesarae, is a well-defined, light coloured subspecies occurring in the Department of Magdalena, southward from Ciénaga Grande, and the lowlands of the Department of Cesar, right bank and north of the Río Magdalena as far as the west bank of the Río César, north to the deciduous and gallery forests of the Río Ranchería, Department of Guajira (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2004).

Cebus albifrons malitiosus. (Colombia)
Central and northern Colombia. Deciduous and humid forests of the northern slopes of the Santa Marta Mountains at least as high as 1,300 m, although the eastern and southern limits of its range are not well defined (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2004).

Cebus albifrons versicolor. (Colombia)
Cauca-Magdalena interfluvium, including the eastern parts of central Antioquia and southern parts of Sucre to the west. It extends north along the slopes of the northernmost reaches of the Cordillera Oriental and along the Serranía de Perijá, west of Lake Maracaibo, and east of Lake Maracaibo to the Serranía de Merida (Bodini and Pérez-Hernández 1987; Bodini 1989; Linares 1998). To the east of the Cordillera Oriental it occurs in Norte de Santander, and Santander (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2004).

Cebus albifrons trinitatis. (Trinidad)
An isolated population on the Island of Trinidad.

Cebus albifrons aequatorialis. (Ecuador, Peru)
All of western Ecuador along the Pacific coast, extending into the Department of Tumbes in Peru (Encarnación and Cook 1998; Tirira and da la Torre 2001).
Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil (Acre, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima); Colombia (Colombia (mainland)); Ecuador (Ecuador (mainland)); Peru; Trinidad and Tobago; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In eastern Vichada (El Tuparro), Colombia, ecological densities of this species reach 30 individuals/km² (Defler 1979a). Densties on the Río Purité, Colombia, (four sites) were found to range from 4.4 to 15.8 individuals/km² (Defler 2004).
Desnties of Cebus albifrons tend to be lower when sympatric with Cebus macrocephalus (Defler 2004). Freese (1975) estimated a density of 24 individuals/km² in Manu National Park, Peru.

Peres (1988) estimated population densities of Cebus albifrons albifrons at a number of sites in the Braziliian Amazon: Lago da Fortuna (terra firma forest) 7.81 individuals/km²; Lago da Fortuna (várzea forest) 45.8 individuals/km²; Igarapé Açú (terra firma forest) 15.47 individuals/km²; SM1 (terra firma forest) 9.5 individuals/km²; São Domingos(terra firma forest) 25.64 individuals/km².

Rylands (1982) estimated a population density of 4.7-7.5 individuals/km² at Aripuanã, northern Mato Grosso (terra firma forest).

The total population of Cebus albifrons trinitatis is estimated at around 61 with an effective population size of 35 (Census from December 1996 to November 2000, by Kimberly A. Phillips). In Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary and the immediate area (Nariva Swamp - a 24,000-ha wetland) surrounding the sanctuary, the subpopulation was 49. Troops were commonly encountered in Bush Bush. However, in Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, the subpopulation totals 12 and capuchins are encountered very rarely (Agoramoorthy and Hsu 1995; Phillips and Abercrombie 2003).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits dry, deciduous forest in the north of its range, tropical lowland and submontane and montane rain forest, seasonally inundated forest, and savanna forests. Arboreal quadrupeds, they are typically found in the lower to mid-canopy and understorey (Freese and Oppenheimer 1981; Fragaszy et al. 2004; Jack 2007; Tirira 2007).

Frugivores-insectivores. They are extractive, manipulative foragers. Largely sympatric with the tufted capuchins, eitherCebus apella or C. macrocephalus, but the species differ most markedly in their diet through their use of palm fruits (Terborgh 1983; Spironello 1991, 2001). Mean group size for Cebus albifrons is 19.8 individuals, with numbers of males similar to numers of females (adult sex ratio of 1.08). Males disperse. Both sexes take up linear hierarchies, with males dominant to females (Fragaszy et al. 2004). A field study of the ecology and behaviour of C. albifrons albifrons was carried out by Defler (1979a,b) in the llanos of El Tuparro Natinal Park, Colombia. There he observed groups of 8-15 individuals, with one group using a home range of about 120 ha. Groups of up to 35 indviduals use home ranges of similar size (120-150 ha in the tropical humds forests of Ecuador (Tirira 2007).

Size: Adult male 1.7 kg-3.3 kg (mean 2.48 kg); adult female: 1.4-2.3 kg (mean 1.8 kg) (Jack 2007).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to this species across its range is hunting combined with forest loss and fragmentation. .

On Trinidad, Cebus albifrons trinitatis the two subpopulations in Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary are entirely isolated. In Trinity Hills, hunting is allowed in some areas adjacent to the sanctuary. Hunting camps are established near the border of the sanctuary, though the extent of incursions into the sanctuary per se is unknown. In Bush Bush, the main threats are habitat destruction due to illegal logging and planting of marijuana, which occurs regularly (Phillips and Abercrombie 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Cebus albifrons trinitatis

Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (6483 ha) (Bacon and ffrench 1972)
Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary and immediate surrounding area (1,550 ha) (Bacon and ffrench 1972)

Cebus albifrons versicolor

Nevado del Huila National Park (158,000 ha) ? (Defler 1994)
Catatumbo-Bari National Park (158,125 ha) (Defler 1994)

Perija National Park (295,288 ha)?

Cebus albifrons malitiosus

Tayrona National Park (15,000 ha) (Defler 1994)
Sierra Nevada de Sanata Marta National Park (383,000 ha) (Defler 1994)

Cebus albifrons cesarae

Macuira National Park (25,000 ha)? (Defler 1994)
Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (7,000 ha)? (Defler 1994)
Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (23,000 ha) (Defler 1994)

Cebus albifrons albifrons

Amazonas National Park
Serra do Divisor Narional Park

Amacayacu Natural National Park (293,000 ha) (Defler 1994)
Cahuinarí Natural National Park (575,500 ha)? (Defler 1994)
Serrania de Chiribiquete Natural National Park (1,280,000 ha)
La Paya Natural National Park (442,000 ha) (Defler 1994)
Serranía de la Macarena Natural National Park (630,000 ha)
Chiribiquete Natural National Park (1,280,000 ha)? (Defler 1994)
Puinawai Natrual Reserve (1,092,000 ha)? (Defler 1994)
Nukak Natural Reserve (855,000 ha)? (Defler 1994)
El Tuparro National Park (548,000 ha) (Defler 1979a,b)

Sangay National Park (517,765 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Sumaco-Napo Galeras National Park (205,249 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Yasuní National Park (982,300 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve (403,103 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Cofán-Bermejo Ecological Reserve (55,451 ha) (Tirira 2007)
Cuyabeno Faunal Protection Reserve (Tirira 2007)

Manu National Park (1,532,806 ha) (Terborgh 1983)
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (2,080,000 ha)

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

Cebus albifrons aequatorialis

Machalilla National Park (56,814 ha)
Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve (119,172 ha)
Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve (49,894 ha)
Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve (243,638 ha)

Cerros de Amotape National Park (91,300 ha)
Tumbes Reserved Zone
Citation: de la Torre, S., Morales, A. L., Link, A. & Cornejo, F. 2008. Cebus albifrons. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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