Survey of Alouatta Caraya, the Black-And-Gold Howler Monkey, and Alouatta Guariba Clamitans, the Brown Howler Monkey, in a Contact Zone, State of Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil: Evidence for Hybridization

Primates. 2008 Oct;49(4):246-52. doi: 10.1007/s10329-008-0091-4. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


Sympatry and natural hybridization between howler monkey taxa (Alouatta spp.) has only recently being confirmed in the wild. Surveys in areas of potential contact between the distribution of two taxa have shown that sympatry is rare, although more common than previously known. Here we report the results of a survey conducted in a contact zone between the only two sexually dichromatic howler monkey taxa, Alouatta caraya and A. guariba clamitans, in São Francisco de Assis, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Our survey, covering an area of about 400 ha at the Cerro dos Negros (29 degrees 33'50''-29 degrees 35'10''S, 54 degrees 58'40''-54 degrees 59'50''W; approximately 100-279 m a.s.l.), was successful in locating seven black-and-gold and one brown howler monkey social groups living syntopically. Black-and-gold group size ranged from 5 to 15 individuals, whereas the brown group was composed of 7 individuals. The pelage color of three adult males belonging to different black-and-gold groups and another adult male belonging to the brown howler group presented a mosaic of red or rufous and black. These adult males and an adult female living in another black-and-gold group are putative hybrids. Therefore, it appears that pre-zygotic reproductive isolation has not evolved, at least not completely, between these howler monkey species, corroborating previous reports for these and other Alouatta taxa. Future genetic studies need to confirm the occurrence of hybridization in this contact zone, and to determine the viability and fertility of hybrids and their possible offspring. In addition, there is no evidence supporting the existence of significant segregation in habitat and resource utilization by black-and-gold and brown howler monkeys.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alouatta / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Demography*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Hair
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Pigmentation / genetics