Ph.D. Student, University of Illinois
Research: Conservation implications of forest fragmentation on pathogen infections and physiological indicators of stress in a population of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) in Mexico
Species/Topic: black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra)
Abstract: Habitat loss and forest fragmentation resulting from human activities have the potential to increase the exposure and susceptibility of non-human primates to existing and emerging infectious diseases, as well as to decrease access and availability to important food sources. These stressful conditions may have severe negative consequences for the health and sustainability of primate communities, leading to population declines. This research examines the effects of forest fragmentation on infectious disease transmission and chronic physiological stress in a population of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) in southern Mexico. This will be accomplished through a 14-month field study of parasite infections, endocrine function, and demography in 10 groups of A. pigra, five living in highly disturbed forest fragments and five living in a continuous forest. Results from this study will provide critical information on the health and sustainability of this endangered primate species.