Spider Monkeys Rule the Roost: Ateline Sleeping Sites Influence Rainforest Heterogeneity
Osa Conservation, Conservation Science Team, Washington, DC, 20005, USA
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK
Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
Centre for Ecology & Conservation, School of Bio sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 October 2019 / Revised: 26 November 2019 / Accepted: 27 November 2019 / Published: 1 December 2019
Spider monkeys are important dispersers of many hardwood trees that contribute greatly to the carbon sequestration of tropical forests. One way in which Spider monkeys influence tropical ecosystem structure and function is through the creation of visible terrestrial latrines beneath their “sleeping sites”—trees in which they frequently return to sleep. Spider monkey latrines are thought to create high quality resource patches for rainforest plants and other wildlife to exploit. We investigate this using camera traps placed in both the canopy and on the rainforest floor to determine which rainforest wildlife are attracted to the latrines beneath the sleeping sites of spider monkeys. We also assess the tree species and dung beetles found within the latrines compared with other areas of the forest. Our evidence suggests that spider monkey roosting sites are a hub of activity for other rainforest wildlife, and act as germinating beds for many rainforest trees. If rainforests were to lose spider monkeys, from intensive hunting for example, many other rainforest wildlife species would be affected, and forests would therefore be made up of different tree communities than landscapes where spider monkeys exist.