Understanding the complex relationship between primates and their habitats is essential for effective conservation plans. Peat-swamp forest has recently been recognized as an important habitat for the Southern Bornean gibbon (Hylobates albibarbis), but information is scarce on the factors that link gibbon density to characteristics of this unique ecosystem. Our aims in this study were firstly to estimate gibbon density in different forest subtypes in a newly protected, secondary peat-swamp forest in the Sabangau Catchment, Indonesia, and secondly to identify which vegetation characteristics correlate with gibbon density. Data collection was conducted in a 37.1 km(2) area, using auditory sampling methods and vegetation "speed plotting". Gibbon densities varied between survey sites from 1.39 to 3.92 groups/km(2). Canopy cover, tree height, density of large trees and food availability were significantly correlated with gibbon density, identifying the preservation of tall trees and good canopy cover as a conservation priority for the gibbon population in the Sabangau forest. This survey indicates that selective logging, which specifically targets large trees and disrupts canopy cover, is likely to have adverse effects on gibbon populations in peat-swamp forests, and calls for greater protection of these little-studied ecosystems.
(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.