Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Relatively little is known about the behaviour of Dian's tarsier, which was first described as recently as 1991. Tarsiers on Sulawesi live in small groups of up to eight individuals, consisting of one adult male, one to three adult females and their offspring (4). In the morning, a conspicuous duet song is often performed by the male and females at or close to the sleeping site (5), serving both as a territorial advertisement and to strengthen group bonds (4). Dian's tarsier's reproductive biology is poorly understood, but tarsiers are known to give birth to single young, and pregnant females of this species have been observed year-round (4). Other tarsier species experience gestation periods of around 180 days, after which mothers have been seen carrying the infant either under their belly or in their mouth (2) (5). This arboreal species sleeps in a group in tree cavities (as in strangling figs) and dense foliage during the day (4) (6), and forages in the undergrowth during the night (4). Like other tarsiers, Dian's tarsier is exclusively insectivorous and carnivorous (5), feeding mainly on insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and moths (4).
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Description

Weighing around just 100 grams, the six currently recognised tarsier species are amongst the smallest primates to exist (4), and demonstrate some of the most highly specialised features of the primate world. As an adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyle, these extraordinary animals possess the largest eyes relative to their body weight of any mammal (5). The huge chestnut-brown eyes cannot move, so the head has evolved the ability to turn 180 degrees, allowing a wide field of vision (6). Additionally, tarsiers possess specially-adapted, elongated tarsus bones, for which they earn their Latin and common name (6); their long hind limbs enabling these vertical-clingers-and-leapers to jump more than a remarkable 40 times their own length (5). The fingers are also long and slender and form a very effective cage to trap insects in the darkness of the forest night (5). Dian's tarsier has a woolly, greyish-buff coat, whitish hairs on the upper lip, and a naked tail with a long, bushy tuft covering the latter half (2) (5) (6).
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Distribution

Tarsius dentatus (Dian's tarsier) from the northern part of Sulawesi, Indonesia was originally described as a new species in 1921 by Miller and Hollister. In 1991, Niemitz and coworkers characterized a purported new species named Tarsius dentatus. However, in 1997, Shekelle and coworkers proposed that T. dianae was a synonym of T. dentatus. Further analysis is required to determine whether they are the same species. Dian's tarsiers occur predominantly in central Sulawesi, an island of Indonesia. Their presence is largely determined by their vocalizations (Nietsch and Kopp, 1998). Gursky (1998, 2007) states that most members of the species live in the Morowali Nature Reserve and Lore Lindu National Park.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Flannery, S. 2007. "The Primata" (On-line). Primate Fact Sheets. Accessed May 09, 2007 at http://members.tripod.com/uakari/tarsius_dianae.html.
  • Groves, C. 2003. The Tarsiers of Sulawesi. Pp. 179-195 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Gursky, S. 1998. Conservation Status of the Spectral Tarsier. Folia Primatol, 69: 191-203.
  • Gursky, S. 2007. The Spectral Tarsier. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc..
  • Niemitz, C., A. Nietsch, S. Warter, Y. Rumpler. 1991. Tarsius dentatus: A New Primate Species from Central Sulawesi (Indonesia). Folia Primatologica, 56: 105-116.
  • Nietsch, A., M. Kopp. 1998. Role of Vocalization in Species Differentiation of Sulawesi Tarsiers. Folia Primatologica, 69: 371-378.
  • The BayScience Foundation, Inc. 2007. "Zipcode Zoo" (On-line). Tarsius dentatus. Accessed May 09, 2007 at http://www.zipcodezoo.com/Animals/T/Tarsius_dianae.asp.
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Range Description

The species occurs in the eastern portion of the central core of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The northern boundary is the Isthmus of Palu between Marantale (Shekelleet al. 1997), Ampibabo (Stefan Merker unpubl. data), and Tomini Bay. The species is distributed east to the tip of the eastern peninsula (J. Burton unpubl. data). The western boundary appears to extend at least to the Palu River and south as far as Gimpu (Merker and Groves 2006). The southern boundary from Lore Lindu National Park to the eastern coast of Sulawesi is unknown. In this estimate, the southern border is inferred to be the edge of the main, east-central microplate. This puts the estimated faunal boundary somewhat to the north of the boundary between Macaca tonkeana and M. ochreata.
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Range

Dian's tarsier is endemic to the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia's fourth largest island (4).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Tarsiers are easily distinguished by their size, large orbits, and elongated tarsal bones. The head of tarsiers is round with a reduced muzzle and short neck.  Tarsius dentatus is larger than T. pumilus but similar in size to T. tarsius. The coat color of Dian's tarsiers is grayish-buff and the tail is naked except for some hair at the end. Tarsius dentatus can be identified by the presence of short, white hairs flanking the upper lip and in the middle of the lower lip. It can be distinguished from T. tarsier by the lack of brown pelage at the hip, thigh, or knee and darker pigmentation on the tail, fingers, toes, and nails. Tarsius dentatus also has a more conspicuous black line of fur surrounding the eyes than does T. tarsier. The ears of T. dentatus are shorter and wider than those of T. tarsier and there is a hairless patch at the base of each ear. The fur of subadults is slightly more gray and woolly than those of T. tarsier.  The digits are padded to allow gripping with grasping hands and feet. The finger nails of T. dentatus are curved, pointed, and dark. Females have two pairs of mammary glands.

Because this species is nocturnal and lacks a tapetum lucidum, its eyes are enlarged to a diameter of approximately 16 mm. The eyes appear asymmetrical and not fully opened compared to those of T. tarsier. Tarsius dentatus is able to rotate its head 180 degrees.  The nasal region is covered with short hair except for an area of naked skin around the nostrils. Tarsius dentatus has well-developed, laterally folded nostrils. It also has large ears, but they are short compared to those of T. tarsier.

Tarsius dentatus has a more delicate mandible than that of T. tarsier. The dental formula of this species is 2/1:1:3:3, and it has large, pointed upper and lower incisors. The upper canines are small.

Tarsiers are small and nocturnal. They do not exhibit torpor, a state of dormancy during food shortages.

Range mass: 95 to 110 g.

Average mass: 100 g.

Range length: 115 to 121 mm.

Average length: 120 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • Schwartz, J. 2003. How Close Are the Similarities between Tarsius and Other Primates?. Pp. 50-96 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

This tarsier species lives both in primary and secondary lowland rainforests in central Sulawesi. Field studies reveal that the population density of T. dentatus varies from 129 to 136 individuals per square kilometer (Gursky, 2007). At an altitude of 500 to 1000 meters, population density is estimated to be 180 individuals, while at 1000 to 1500 meters, only 57 individuals per square kilometer were observed. The population was also approximately ten times more dense in secondary forests than primary forests.

Range elevation: 1500 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest

  • Jablonski, N. 2003. The Evolution of the Tarsiid Niche. Pp. 35-49 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species has been studied in the field (Tremble et al. 1993; Merker 2006; Merker et al. 2005; Merker 2003; Merker and Mühlenberg 2000; Gursky 1998). It occurs in primary, secondary and mangrove forests, forest gardens, and a variety of other habitats of varying degrees of human disturbance that provide adequate shrubby cover. Like all tarsiers it shows extreme adaptations for vertical clinging and leaping (VCL) in the understory of suitable tropical habitats, often 0 m or less from the ground. Nocturnal social primates, they likely live in small, monogamous or polygamous groupings of 2-7 individuals (Merker 2003). Home range sizes have been recorded as 1.0–1.8 ha depending on habitat type. The diet is 100% live animal prey, mostly insects with some small vertebrates.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Found amongst primary and secondary rainforest (5) between sea level and around 1500 meters above sea level (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Tarsiers are primarily insectivores that hunt by visual predation and feed on crickets (Gryllidae), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), and moths (Lepidoptera). They also eat small lizards and crustaceans, such as shrimps, in captivity. Tarsiers capture prey by carefully watching prey movements and leaping forward suddenly to capture prey in both hands. The food is chewed with a side-to-side motion of the jaw while the tarsier sits on its hind limbs grasping a tree branch. Tarsiers also ingest water by lapping, or take in liquid using the tongue. However, the specific eating habits of Tarsius dentatus remain to be studied.

Animal Foods: reptiles; insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Tarsiers capture and eat live animal prey at night. Hence, their role in the ecosystem has been compared to that of an owl. Tarsiers prefer to prey on insects active at night that experience less dramatic seasonal fluctuations in population. Tarsier predation minimizes competition because other insectivores such as bats and birds cannot easily maneuver through the dense understory of the forest at night. Tarsius dentatus also serves as a host for many common parasites. Through fecal analysis, Niemitz et al. (1991) found intestinal parasites including Entamoeba and two Digenea trematode species, none of which are present in T. tarsier.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predators of tarsiers are not well studied, but Gursky (2007) suggests that they include birds of prey (Falconiformes), civets (Viverra), and snakes (Serpentes). In the Merker etal. (2005) field study of Tarsius dentatus no predation was observed.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Males and females communicate with a special call known as the "male-female duet" in which females and males emit differently pitched sounds for 45 seconds at a sleeping site before dawn. There is regional variation in duet calls. The female begins calling by lowering the frequency pitch 16 to 9 kHz, continues her call at 7 or 8 to 1 kHz, and concludes by bringing the pitch back up to 9 to 16 kHz with a range of 1 to 9 kHz. Similarly, the male's pitch falls from 10 kHz to 5 kHz at the beginning and steadily rises to 14 kHz until the end. It is thought that the duets serve to prevent conflict by warning potential intruders of the claimed territory and of already paired individuals.

The species also identifies scent marks made from secreted urine and other substances from the epigastric glands.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: duets ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Tarsius dentatus has never been kept in captivity, but in general tarsiers in captivity live an average of 5 years with a maximum of 12 years.

  • Fitch-Snyder, H. 2003. History of Captive Conservation of Tarsiers. Pp. 277-295 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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Reproduction

Although tarsiers were believed to be monogamous, studies have shown that Sulawesi tarsiers actually exhibit facultative polygyny and form strong pair bonds. Males are more territorial than females and have a greater home range. The mating system of Tarsius dentatus remains to be studied.

The mating behavior of Tarsius dentatus has not been studied. Before the onset of female ovulation, both male and female tarsiers groom themselves and mark their environment more frequently with urine and feces. Males have been observed to chase after estrous females while chirping like a bird, and they examine female genitals by sniffing. Vocalizations by both sexes also increase in frequency, and include a "piercing-twittering 'chit-chit'".

The reproductive behavior of Tarsius dentatus has not been studied. In general, tarsier females give birth to one offspring per year with a long gestation period. The rate of fetal and postnatal development of tarsiers is among the slowest of all mammals. Tarsier infants are also proportionally the largest of all non-anthropoid primate infants. Most of their mass is composed of brain mass, eyes, and cranium. The dedication of resources to the brain leads to the rapid development of foraging and locomotor behaviors.

Pregnancy is often very costly for female tarsiers. Pregnant females have low mobility, impaired foraging abilities, and maintain smaller home ranges than their non-pregnant counterparts. Furthermore, postpartum females cannot lactate and transport infants at the same time due to energy restrictions. They often "park" their offspring on a secure branch. Pregnant females were observed in a year-round study, and there appears to be no seasonal variation in mating.

Studies on T. tarsier have revealed that young tarsier females stay with their parents until adulthood, whereas young males leave as juveniles.

Breeding interval: Interbirth intervals have not been documented in Tarsius dentatus.

Breeding season: Female tarsiers have been observed pregnant year round.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 6 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Pairs of female and male tarsiers stay together to form close bonds for at least 15 months. Tarsier infants can cling to a vertical surface. Female progeny stay with their parents until adulthood, whereas young males leave during youth. Tarsier mothers and young have been reported to exhibit reciprocal sniffing after birth as a way of recognition.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); extended period of juvenile learning

  • Doyle, G. 1979. Development of Behavior in Prosimians with Special Reference to the Lesser Bushbaby, Galago senegalensis moholi . Pp. 157-206 in G Doyle, R Martin, eds. The Study of Prosimian Behavior. New York: Academic Press, Inc..
  • Jablonski, N. 2003. The Evolution of the Tarsiid Niche. Pp. 35-49 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Merker, S. 2006. Habitat-specific ranging patterns of Dian's tarsiers (Tarsius dianae) as revealed by radiotracking. American Journal of Primatology, 68: 111-125. Accessed May 09, 2007 at http://www.interscience.wiley.com.
  • Merker, S., I. Yustian, M. Mühlenberg. 2005. Responding to forest degradation: altered habitat use by Dian's tarsier Tarsius dianae in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Oryx, 39/02: 189-195. Accessed May 09, 2007 at http://www.journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=301004.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • Schilling, A. 1979. Olfactory Communication in Prosimians. Pp. 461-542 in G Doyle, R Martin, eds. The Study of Prosimian Behavior. New York: Academic Press, Inc..
  • Van Horn, R., G. Eaton. 1979. Reproductive Physiology and Behavior in Prosimians. Pp. 79-122 in G Doyle, R Martin, eds. The Study of Prosimian Behavior. New York: Academic Press, Inc..
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Tarsius dentatus is categorized as low risk on multiple conservation lists because of their nocturnal habits, ability to adjust to disturbed habitats, and because they reside in large, protected parks such as Lora Lindi (also Lora Lindu). Despite efforts to preserve these parks, the species is still threatened by habitat destruction and hunting by humans. Lore Lindi National Park is surrounded by many agrarian communities that hunt within the park and use timber and rattan as a source of income. Similarly, Morowali Nature Reserve also protects a group of endemic slash-and-burn horticulturalists, Wana, who hunt tarsiers with dogs and blowguns and burn the land for dry rice agriculture.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A4c

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Shekelle, M., Salim, A. & Merker, S.

Reviewer/s
Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is considered Vulnerable based on habitat loss alone, as at least 30% of the habitat has been converted in the past 20 years (approximately 3 generations). From 1990 to 2000, from 15 to 26% of the forest habitat on the island was converted to agriculture (A. Salim pers. comm.), and since that time at least an additional 10% has been lost.

History
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
  • 1994
    Indeterminate
    (Groombridge 1994)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
Merker (2003) estimated population densities in a variety of pristine and human disturbed habitats. The values he calculated were 270/km2 in pristine habitat, 190/km2 for slightly disturbed habitat, 130/km2 for moderately disturbed habitat, and 45/km2 in heavily disturbed habitat (Merker 2003).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The primary threat to this species is loss of habitat loss due to illegal logging. Other threats include agricultural pesticides and predation by domestic animals (dogs and cats). In addition, some animals are entering the pet trade. There has been extensive loss of lowland forest habitat; however, the species has some tolerance to forest conversion. A crucial unknown variable in determining how critical the threats to this species are is its elevational distribution. GIS data indicate that large areas of quality forested habitat remain at higher elevations, but the vertical range of this species is believed to stop somewhere between 1,100-1,500 m, thus rendering a large portion of the best remaining habitat outside the range.
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Dian's tarsier is still relatively abundant in central Sulawesi but population sizes are declining (4). Further more, the species is largely confined to the areas in and around the Lore Lindu National Park, and the park is considered essential for its continued survival (1). Thus, the species is classified on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable (1). This tarsier is primarily threatened by loss, degradation and disturbance of its habitat. Although it appears that a limited amount of human disturbance can be tolerated, with the tarsier capable of adapting to traditional land uses such as small-scale agro-forestry, excessive disturbance seems to have a negative impact. In particular, logging activities pose the most serious danger, which not only clear potential sleeping sites but also open up the forest to other damaging forms of land use, such as cash-crop plantations, cattle farming or permanent human settlement. Unfortunately, growing human populations are placing enormous pressure on Sulawesi's remaining forests, and pristine patches are becoming increasingly difficult to preserve (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Tarsiers are protected by national law and international treaties, including CITES Appendix II. Many portions of the range of this taxon are protected and indeed it occurs in at least two national parks (Lore Lindu and Morowali); however, there needs to be improved management of the currently protected areas to ensure the ongoing survival of the species. Public education to overcome the misconception that tarsiers are crop pests would be a step forward in improving conservation measures for the species. In fact the species might actually be beneficial to crops, as they eat, and may even have a dietary preference for, some of the real crop pests such as large grasshoppers.
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Conservation

Dian's tarsier is protected within the Lore Lindu National Park, but there are currently no direct conservation measures targeting this species (1). It has been advocated that local governments and conservation groups should try to encourage landowners to use their land in less damaging ways, such as for small-scale agro-forestry, which Dian's tarsier can inhabit. Since many farmers wrongly believe that tarsiers feed on cash-crops, an educational campaign should accompany this, promoting the species' potential role as a natural predator of insects, and therefore a benefit to horticulturists. Minimising the use of chemical pesticides is also vital to the tarsier's survival and relies on landowners' cooperation. Other than this, it is important that efforts are made to maintain contiguous tracts of habitat and to safeguard potential sleeping sites if this tiny, mysterious primate is to remain in Sulawesi's forests (4).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse effects of Tarsius dentatus on humans.

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Spectral tarsiers have been a popular tourist attraction in Tangkoko, northern Sulawewsi (Fitch-Snyder, 2003). In the future, when Tarsius dentatus is better studied and more popular, Morowali Nature Reserve and Lore Lindu National Park might serve as sites for economic tourism.

Tarsiers are an ancient line of primates existing for at least forty million years. They occupy a unique primate niche and have many morphological and behavioral specializations. Tarsius dentatus is invaluable to the scientific and education communities for understanding the origin and evolution of haplorhine primates.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; research and education

  • Wright, P. 2003. Are Tarsiers Silently Leaping into Extinction?. Pp. 296-308 in P Wright, E Simons, S Gursky, eds. Tarsiers: The Past, Present, and Future. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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Wikipedia

Dian's tarsier

Dian's tarsier (Tarsius dentatus), also known as Diana tarsier, is a nocturnal primate found and endemic to central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Its head-body length is 11.5–12 centimetres (4.5–4.7 in) and it has a tail of 22 centimetres (8.7 in). Dian's tarsier lives in rainforests. It was formerly called T. dianae, but that has been shown to be a junior synonym.[1]

It is found in primary, secondary, and mangrove forests. It is nocturnal and lives in small groups of two to seven members. It is highly adapted to vertical clinging and leaping, like other tarsiers, and has a strict live animal diet, mostly insects with some small vertebrates.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 127. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b Shekelle, M. & Merker, S. (2008). Tarsius dentatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
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