Phenotypic plasticity of tufted capuchin monkeys (genus Sapajus) phase 2: investigating the effect of anthropogenic change of habitat




Geography and Geosciences


Citation of Original Publication


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States


Over the last century, the natural habitats of many animal species have drastically and rapidly changed due to anthropogenic actions. The differential resilience of species to such anthropogenic habitat alteration is hypothetically a function of phenotypic plasticity, that could allow for rapid adjustments to the changing environment. However, a fundamental research question is to understand whether 1) rapid induced anthropogenic action can promote behavioral diversity and innovation, and thus increase behavioral diversity; or alternatively whether 2) animal phenotypic plasticity is limited by rapid environmental anthropogenic change, thus decreasing behavioral diversity (even in resilient species – due to the costs of plasticity and/or greater predictability/less environmental diversity). This project aims to investigate the relationship between behavioral plasticity and primate adaptability and resilience to rapidly changing environments. Our model is the neotropical primate genus Sapajus, known as the robust capuchin monkey. We will continue the research on primate development in three long-term studied populations/species, Sapajus nigritus at Carlos Botelho State Park (PECB), SP, S. libidinosus at Fazenda Boa Vista (FBV), PI, and S. xanthosternos in the UNA Biological Reserve (UNA), BA, and we will include two more populations of each species: S. nigritus in Águas da Prata State Park, SP and in the Urugua-í-Foerster Biological Corridor and in the Yacutinga Reserve, Misiones, Argentina; S. libidinosus in the Brasília National Park, DF and in the Barreirinhas mangrove, MA; S. xanthosternos in the district of Santa Rosa de Lima, MG and in the State Park of Lapa Grande, Montes Claros, MG. The execution of a set of nine objectives will contribute to advance the frontiers of knowledge about the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in three ways. First, under the contemporary theoretical perspective of the extended synthesis of evolution, we will expand the previous project to investigate the contribution of plasticity and genetic diversification to phenotypic diversity. Second, we will investigate whether plasticity affects evolutionary processes and whether the context of accelerated environmental change can increase or reduce plasticity. The recent scenario of anthropization of habitats occupied by their populations offers a unique opportunity for the development of this project. Third, by investigating the relationship between environmental anthropization and variation in phenotypic plasticity and genetic diversity, we will contribute to understanding resilience. In line with the One Health concept, in addition to understanding how organisms react to anthropic environmental changes, scientists must share their discoveries with society and build, with the local communities, interventions aimed at promoting a healthier environment for all organisms. Therefore, we will investigate the human/Sapajus interactions in different locations, working together with local communities that have different involvement with animals to support strategies for the conservation and management of non-human species, including conflict reduction and the promotion of co-existence between human communities and wildlife. This project accords with the research priorities for the conservation of the genus Sapajus recommended by the Capuchin Action Network. This project involves a network of international collaboration among Brazilian researchers from USP, UFABC, UNB, UNIMONTES and researchers from USA at the University of California--Los Angeles(Institute for Society and Genetics), Kansas City University (Medicine and Biosciences), and Salisbury University (Department of Geography and Geosciences); European researchers, from the Institute of Science and Cognition in Rome, Italy and The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS); and a researcher at CONICET, Argentina; and a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).