Golden Lion Tamarin


Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus Rosalia)

The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosaliaPortuguesemico-leão-dourado [ˈmiku ɫiˈɐ̃w̃ dowˈɾaðu]) also known as the golden marmoset, is a small New World monkey of the family Callitrichidae. Native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil, the golden lion tamarin is an endangered species with an estimated wild population of about 1,000 individuals spread between three places along southeastern Brazil, and a captive population maintained at about 490 individuals among 150 zoos.[3][4]

Physical characteristics

The golden lion tamarin gets its name from its bright reddish orange pelage and the extra long hairs around the face and ears which give it a distinctive mane.[6] Its face is dark and hairless. It is believed that the tamarin gets its hair color from sunlight and carotenoids in its food.[7] The golden lion tamarin is the largest of the callitrichines. It is typically around 261 mm (10.3 in) and weighs around 620 g (1.37 lb). There is almost no size difference between males and females. As with all New World monkeys, the golden lion tamarin has tegulae, which are claw-like nails, instead of ungulae or flat nails found in all other primates, including humans.[8] Tegulae enable tamarins to cling to the sides of tree trunks. It may also move quadrupedally along the small branches, whether through walking, running, leaping or bounding.[9] This gives it a locomotion more similar to squirrels than primates.

Habitat and distribution

The golden lion tamarin has a very limited distribution range, as over time they have lost all but 2%–5% of their original habitat in Brazil.[10] Today, this tamarin is confined to three small areas of the tropical rain forest in southeastern Brazil: Poço das Antas Biological Reserve, Fazenda União Biological Reserve, private land through the Reintroduction Program.[4] The first population estimate made in 1972 approximated the count at between 400 and 500. By 1981 the population was reduced to less than 200. Surveys from as recently as 1995 suggest that there may only be at most 400 golden lion tamarins left in the wild. Tamarins live along the far southeast border of the country in the municipalities of Silva JardimCabo FrioSaquarema, and Araruama.[11] However, they have been successfully reintroduced to the municipalities of Rio das OstrasRio Bonito, and Casimiro de Abreu.[12] Tamarins live in coastal lowland forests less than 300 m (984 ft) above sea level.[13] They can be found in hilltop forests and swamp forests.

Behaviour and ecology

The golden lion tamarin is active for a maximum of 12 hours daily. It uses different sleeping dens each day.[14][15] By frequently moving their sleeping nests around, groups minimize the scent left behind, reducing the likelihood of predators finding them.[16] The first activities of the day are traveling and feeding on fruits. As the afternoon nears, tamarins focus more on insects. By late afternoon, they move to their night dens. Tamarin groups use hollow tree cavities, dense vines or epiphytes as sleeping sites. Sites that are between 11 and 15 m (36 and 49 ft) off the ground are preferred. The golden lion tamarin tends to be active earlier and retire later in the warmer, wetter times of the years as the days are longer.[14] During drier times, it forages for insects longer as they become more scarce.[14][15]

Golden lion tamarins are characterized by using manipulative foraging under tree barks and epiphytic bromeliads. Their sites of foraging are usually distributed around their home ranges, which are large territories (averaging 123 hectares) in which multiple foraging sites are located, to find sufficient resources over long periods of time. These areas are sufficient enough in size so that even if there is overlap in between the home range of two different groups, the interactions are minimal due to the distribution of the foraging sites (they spend 50% of their time in approximately 11% of their home range).[17]

The golden lion tamarin has a diverse, omnivorous diet consisting of fruits, flowers, nectar, bird eggs, insects and small vertebrates. They rely on microhabitats for foraging and other daily activities and tamarins will use bromeliads, palm crowns, palm leaf sheaths, woody crevices, lianas, vine tangles, tree bark, rotten logs, and leaf litters.[14][15] The golden lion tamarin uses its fingers to extract prey from crevices, under leaves, and in dense growth; a behavior known as micromanipulation.[18] It is made possible by elongated hands and fingers. Insects make up to 10–15% of its diet. Much of the rest is made of small, sweet, pulpy fruits. During the rainy season, the golden lion tamarin mainly eats fruit, however during drier times, it must eat more of other foods like nectar and gums.[14] Small vertebrates are also consumed more at these times as insects become less abundant.

Social structure

Golden lion tamarins are social and groups typically consist of 2-8 members. These groups usually consist of one breeding adult male and female but may also have 2–3 males and one female or the reverse.[19] Other members include subadults, juveniles and infants of either sexes. These individuals are typically the offspring of the adults. When there is more than one breeding adult in a group, one is usually dominant over the other and this is maintained through aggressive behavior. The dominance relationship between males and females depends on longevity in the group. A newly immigrated male is subordinate to the resident adult female who inherited her rank from her mother.[20] Both males and females may leave their natal group at the age of four, however females may replace their mothers as the breeding adult, if they die, which will lead to the dispersal of the breeding male who is likely her father. This does not happen with males and their fathers. Dispersing males join groups with other males and remain in them until they find an opportunity to immigrate to a new group. The vast majority of recruits to groups are males.[21] A male may find an opportunity to enter into a group when the resident male dies or disappears. Males may also aggressively displace resident males from their group; this is usually done by two immigrant males who are likely brothers. When this happens, only one of the new males will be able to breed and will suppress the reproduction of the other. A resident male may also leave a vacancy when his daughter becomes the breeding female and he must disperse to avoid inbreeding.[22] Golden lion tamarins are highly territorial and groups will defend their home range boundaries and resources from other groups.[23]

Tamarins emit “whine” and “peep” calls, which are associated with alarm and alliances respectively.[24] “Clucks” are made during foraging trips or during aggressive encounters, whether directed at conspecifics or predators.[25] “Trills” are used to communicate over long distances to give away an individual’s position. “Rasps” or “screeches” are usually associated with playful behavior. Tamarins communicate though chemicals marked throughout their territories. Reproductive males and females scent mark the most and their non-reproductive counterparts rarely do so. Dominant males use scent marking to show their social status and may suppress the reproductive abilities of the other males.

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