The role of hunting on Sapajus xanthosternos’ landscape of fear in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States


Habitats with spatial variation in food availability, predation risk, and hunting pressure allow us to study how animals resolve the trade-off between food searching and predator avoidance. We investigated the influence of food availability, predation risk, and the perceived predation risk on habitat use by a primate living under high hunting pressure, the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys, Sapajus xanthosternos, at Una Biological Reserve (ReBio Una). We hypothesized that the hunting pressure occurring in the capuchins’ home range would favor predator avoidance to the detriment of searching for food. We characterized a set of covariates related to resources availability (fruit and invertebrate biomasses, feeding on dispersed and clumped food items, sleeping sites), perceived predation risk (alarm calls given to terrestrial and aerial predators, silent group movement, and vigilance behavior), and actual predation risk (evidence of hunting) and estimated their effects on how one group of capuchin monkeys uses its habitat. The group divides its time among three major forest types within their home range: agroforest, mature and secondary. Our results suggest that the actual and perceived risk of hunting by humans, as well as the perceived predation risk by both terrestrial and aerial predators were significant determinants of capuchin monkeys’ space use. Yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys’ space use was negatively related to the risk of hunting by humans (actual evidence and silent behavior), the perceived risk of predation by both aerial and terrestrial predators, and to the presence of sleeping sites. The biomass of fruits in a habitat did not relate to capuchin monkeys’ space use and the biomass of invertebrates had a very low positive effect. We confirmed our prediction that in a habitat with high hunting pressure, the risk of predation, both perceived and actual, had a more significant impact on how yellow-breasted capuchins used the habitat than did food availability.