Agroecosystems and primate conservation in the tropics: a review

Am J Primatol. 2012 Aug;74(8):696-711. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22033. Epub 2012 May 17.


Agroecosystems cover more than one quarter of the global land area (ca. 50 million km(2) ) as highly simplified (e.g. pasturelands) or more complex systems (e.g. polycultures and agroforestry systems) with the capacity to support higher biodiversity. Increasingly more information has been published about primates in agroecosystems but a general synthesis of the diversity of agroecosystems that primates use or which primate taxa are able to persist in these anthropogenic components of the landscapes is still lacking. Because of the continued extensive transformation of primate habitat into human-modified landscapes, it is important to explore the extent to which agroecosystems are used by primates. In this article, we reviewed published information on the use of agroecosystems by primates in habitat countries and also discuss the potential costs and benefits to human and nonhuman primates of primate use of agroecosystems. The review showed that 57 primate taxa from four regions: Mesoamerica, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa (including Madagascar), and South East Asia, used 38 types of agroecosystems as temporary or permanent habitats. Fifty-one percent of the taxa recorded in agroecosystems were classified as least concern in the IUCN Red List, but the rest were classified as endangered (20%), vulnerable (18%), near threatened (9%), or critically endangered (2%). The large proportion of threatened primates in agroecosystems suggests that agroecosystems may play an important role in landscape approaches to primate conservation. We conclude by discussing the value of agroecosystems for primate conservation at a broad scale and highlight priorities for future research.

Keywords: agricultural matrix; agriculture; human-primate conflict; neotropics; paleotropics; primate persistence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biodiversity
  • Central America
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Endangered Species*
  • Primates / parasitology
  • Primates / physiology*
  • South America
  • Tropical Climate