Black lion tamarin
The black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) also known as the golden-rumped lion tamarin is a lion tamarin endemic to the Brazilian state of São Paulo, almost exclusively at the Morro do Diabo State Park. The lion tamarins are of the rarest of the New world monkeys and for this reason, so little is none about them. This black lion tamarin was thought to be extinct 65 years until rediscovery in 1970. This species is the most endangered out of all the species within the genera Leontopithecus. The average size of the black lion tamarin is 590 - 640 g (ARKive). It lives in secondary and primary forests along its restricted range. The average range size for a black lion tamarin has been estimated to be 64 to 127ha. The black lion tamarin also is usually found in groups ranging from 4-9 individuals. These forests are broken down into three distinct sections a scrub forest, a dry land forest, and a swamp. The IUNC has this species listed on their red list. The reason for this is that experts estimate the total number of individuals that are within this species to be around 1000. On the other hand there are experts who perceive this as a grave overestimate because recent studies have shown that the average range size for a black lion tamarin is closer to 106 ha rather than 66 ha that was previously estimated.
The diet of the black lion tamarin is seasonal and varies with the different environments that it moves between. In addition to seasons, the black lion tamarin varies location of where it looks for food in daily and monthly cycles as well. When the tamarin is in the dryland forest, it usually eats a variety of fruits. During the time that black lion tamarins spend time within a swampy environment they feed on the gum of different trees. During the time that the tamarins are in any of their environments they are searching for different types of insects to feed on. Some insects include spiders and other arthropods. On average 80% of their time can be attributed to the search for insects. This can be assumed that their diet is dependent upon relatively high levels of protein. The search for insects incorporated two parts. The first part is physically looking for insects in areas that are on the forest ground that include leaf-litter, tree roots and decomposing trees. The places that the tamarins look for these insects are very intentional. They are consistently looking under dry palm leave, loose bark, and tree cavities for extended periods. They use their hands that have specialized fingers for type of prying. The second and main part of looking for insects is scanning from a tree. This is usually 4 meters above the forest floor. These black lion tamarins also eat the gum and fruit of trees. This has been recorded to be above the 10-meter mark. Because of the readily accessible fruits and gum, time spent looking for it was totaled to be 12.8% of their day compared to 41.2% of their day searching for insects.
Infant Survival Rate and Care
In the spring, summer and fall months of Brazil is when the lion tamarins are having their children. These months include August to March. The numbers of litters per year is usually one yet in 20% of the population of females, there is the happening of two litters per year. While this is unusual this had no baring on the mortality rate of the children of either litter. Also within a population, the mean litter size is roughly 2 infants for a female who has one litter that year. For a female that has two litters that year, she will usually have anywhere from 3 to 4 in that given year. In most mammals there is a usually 50:50 ration of males to females. However, in the black lion tamarin species there is almost always a 60:40 male to female distribution within the litters. Most of the deaths of infants within a population usually occur within the first week or two after birth. The lowest survival rates were experienced in the care of a first time mother. Contrary to conservationist’s thoughts, the number of animals that survive in the wild is 10% higher that those that are in captivity. That means that the tamarins have a better chance surviving in the wild.
During the first few months after birth, the infant is unable to obtain food on its own. For this reason the infant will latch on the back of the parent and will ride them till they can fend for themselves. This food sharing usually starts around 4 to 5 weeks after the birth of the individual. Food sharing does not start till them because they are drinking milk and not consuming solid food till then. Usually until the age of approximately 15 weeks the newly born infant will receive more food from others through sharing than through self-feeding. Sharing is considered both offers from the parent and from successful begging from the infant. Offers from members of the group is highest around week 7 yet ceases at around 20 weeks after the infants birth. After 15 weeks there is a slow decline in sharing to about 26 weeks were food sharing was practically non-existent. Because they feed on a large number of insects in their diet, the inexperienced tamarins rely on the older members of the group to share with them.
Calling Structure and Taxonomy
Within the genus of Leontopithecus, the black lion tamarin is the largest and has the lower pitched calls. In addition to their lower pitch, the black lion tamarin also used longer notes that the other members of the genus. The taxonomy of the lion tamarin is disputed. One reason is that certain taxonomists classify them by their geography in relation to each other while others place them all into one species and then as subspecies. Most recently they have agreed to classify them through their geography. Sometimes characteristics such as long calls are analyzed to be used to classify different species, especially birds that sing. These calls of the black lion tamarin can be used to defend a territory, maintain cohesion within the group, attracting a mate, and contacting individuals who might have lost physical contact with the group. Most calls can be recorded in the morning with can be attributed to the reunion of mated pairs. These mated pairs are coupled up throughout the mating season. For the sake of differentiating within the genera, a black lion tamarin’s call is one whose syllables have the greatest range from start to finish yet start lowest.
Status and Threats
As mentioned previously the black lion tamarin is the most endangered out of all the species within the genera Leontopithecus. For this reason there have been several attempts to bring the tamarins into captivity and to salvage what little home they have left within the Morro do Diablo State Park. The natural habitat of this animal has been exploited and destroyed through deforestation, and this is the primary threat to the black lion tamarin. For this reason the IUCN have on their records that the number of individuals within the species is declining. Another threat is from people hunting them in some of the unprotected forests that the black lion tamarin inhabits. Some of these forests include Fazenda Rio Claro and Fazenda Tucano. In these parks there are roughly 3.66 and 1.0 individuals per square kilometer respectively. Hunting could cause these animals to be entirely exclusive to the Morro do Diablo State Park. Some precautions that are being taken are captivity programs. Some black lion tamarins are being taken into captivity to be breed to increase the number of individuals.
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