The geographic range of the Leontopithecus caissara is limited to about 17,300 hectares in southeastern Brazil (Massicot, 2001). It was first discovered in 1990 and was thought to exist only on the small island of Superagui in the state of Parana. It has since been observed on the mainland in the adjacent state of Sao Paulo (Kleiman and Mallison, 1998).
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
The distirbution of L. caissara is reviewed by Rylands et al. (2002b).
All four species of lion tamarins, including L. caissara, are also known as "Kings of the Jungle." Their tiny wrinkled faces are surrounded by tufts of hair that resemble a lion's mane. The mane, arms, and tail of L. caissara, are black, whereas the rest of the body has a golden color to it. Tamarins in general are monkeys the size of large squirrels (Newsweek, 1990). The average body mass is about 600 g, and the average length is about 30.5 cm (without the tail). The tail can be up to 43.2 cm long (Massicot, 2001). These tamarins have non-opposable thumbs, long digits for getting at insects and fruit, and claw-like nails for digging up insects under the bark of trees (Flannery, 2001).
Average mass: 600 g.
Average length: 30.5 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
L. caissara occupies deciduous rainforests (Flannery, 2001).
Habitat Regions: tropical
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Habitat and Ecology
Marmosets and tamarins are distinguished from the other monkeys of the New World by their small size, modified claws rather than nails on all digits except the big toe, the presence of two as opposed to three molar teeth in either side of each jaw, and by the occurrence of twin births. They eat fruits, flowers, nectar, plant exudates (gums) and animal prey (including frogs, snails, lizards, spiders and insects) (see Rylands 1993; Kierulff et al. 2002a).
Kierulff et al. (2002a) provide a comprehensive review of the behavioural ecology of the lion tamarins. They differ from other callithrichids in having long fingers and hands, which allow them to forage for prey efficiently in nooks and crannies and in epiphytic tank bromeliads.
Lion tamarins live in extended family groups of usually 4 to 8 individuals. Generally, only one female per group breeds during a particular breeding season. They breed once a year. The groups defend home ranges of 40 to more than 100 ha (the size depending on availability and distribution of foods and second-growth patches). In the Superagüi National Park, L. caissara have been found to use very large home ranges (321 ha), travelling from 1,082 to 3,398 m a day (Prado 1999).
The first bevioural ecological study of this study of this species was carried out by Prado (Prado and Valladares-Padua 1997; Prado 1999; Prado et al. 2000).
French et al. (2002) review the reproductive biology of lion tamarins, Baker et al. (2002) review their mating system and group dynamics (focussing particularly on L. rosalia) and Tardif et al. (2002) aspects of infant care and development.
Black-faced lion tamarins are primarily frugivorous, feeding on fruit, flowers, gum and nectar. However, they also eat insects, which they find under the bark of trees, as well as small lizards and snakes (Massicot, 2001).
Animal Foods: reptiles; insects
Plant Foods: fruit; nectar; flowers; sap or other plant fluids
Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )
Because it eats fruit, this species helps to disperse seeds. It also likely has some effect on populations of insects, snakes, and small lizards because of its predatory behavior on these animals. Because L. caissara is also a prey item, fluctuations in the population of these primates probably has some effect on its predators.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
Black-faced lion tamarins vary their sleeping spots to avoid predation (Harper). Some predators that have been reported include black-hawk eagles, jaguar, jaguraundi, ocelot, ornate hawk-eagles, and tayra.
- black-hawk eagles (Spizaetus tyrannus)
- ornate hawk-eagles (Spizaetus ornatus)
- Jaguars (Panthera onca)
- jaguarundis (Hepailurus yaguarondi)
- ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
- tayra (Eira barbara)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Lifespan in this species has not been reported, but in another member of the same genus, L. rosalia, one individual lived in captivity for over 28 years (Nowak, 1999).
These animals mate monogamously. Male and female maintain a territory, on which they tollerate their non-breeding offspring.
Mating System: monogamous
Black-faced lion tamarins are fairly social mammals living in groups ranging from 2 to 11 members (Massicot, 2001). They are mostly monogamous and both the male and female care for the young. They mate once a year and give birth usually to two offspring at a time, although triplets and quadruplets have been seen in the wild. Young are born fully furred with their eyes open (Nowak, 1999). The older twins from the previous year tend to remain and help raise the new young (Harper). The father carries the infants around while the mother nurses them every 2-3 hours. The birth peak is from September to March (Flannery, 2001). Weaning usually occurs by 12 weeks of age in captivity . Females reach sexually maturity around 18 months of age, whereas males mature sexually around 24 months (Nowak, 1999).
Breeding season: Births of black-faced lion tamarins peak from September-March.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average weaning age: 12 weeks.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18-24 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18-24 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
As in all mammals, the mother nurses the young. The father is attentive in tamarins, however, and begins carrying the young part of the time within a few weeks of birth. By three weeks, the father has charge of the young almost all the time, except when they are nursing. Young from a previous litter may also help to carry the infants (Nowak, 1999).
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents
Black-faced lion tamarins are among of the world's rarest mammals and the species listed as critically endangered by the IUCN (Massicot, 2001). The estimated wild population of this animal is less than 300 individuals (Harper). There are several groups working to protect the tamarins and their habitat. Such groups include Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, whose goal is to collect information regarding the natural history of this animal, along with basic habitat and behavioral data. This information is then used to educate the public, especially those living in or near the habitat of the tamarin (Prado). The group "Wildinvest," is working to help fund conservation projects for endangered or threatened animals such as black-faced lion tamarins. This group is supporting the black-faced lion tamarin conservation project, which is working to protect and restore the habitat, educate the public of the importance of conservation, as well as employing many other conservation management strategies (Massicot, 2001).
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: threatened
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: critically endangered
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2003Critically Endangered
- 2003Critically Endangered(IUCN 2003)
- 2000Critically Endangered
- 1996Critically Endangered(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1996Critically Endangered
- 1994Endangered(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
A more recent population estimate for the Island of Superagui, based on transect work between 2000 and 2002, is 183 animals (Amaral et al. 2003); there are no recent population estimates for the mainland. The total current population is therefore for unlikely to exceed 400 animals at present.
Population densities are in the order of 1.5 individuals/km² or 0.30 groups/km² (Lorini and Persson 1994a). Amaral et al. (2003) reported an individual density of 1.66 individuals/km² or 0.38 groups/km² on Superagui.
A study by Dietz et al. (2000) examined inbreeding depression in small (50 or less) isolated populations of L. rosalia. They concluded that it reduced probability of long-term survival by about one-third. There is every reason to believe that inbreeding depression is likewise prejudicial to the isolated populations of L. caissara, most notably on the mainland.
Considerable efforts are being devoted to environmental education and also research, management and protection of the Superagüi National Park.
There is no captive breeding programme for the species (Ballou et al. 2002).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
No negative impact has been indicated in the literature.
Impact of this species on humans is very limited, due to the small size of the population. However, as with all endangered primates, there is likely some ecotourism generated from these animals.
Positive Impacts: ecotourism
Superagui lion tamarin
The black-faced lion tamarin or Superagui lion tamarin (Leontopithecus caissara) is a small New World monkey of the family Callitrichidae. It is critically endangered and endemic to coastal forests in southeastern Brazil. There are several conservation projects and the total populations is unlikely to exceed 400 individuals. It is overall golden-orange with contrasting black head, legs and tail.
Discovery and distribution
The black-faced lion tamarin was not recognized until 1990 when two Brazilian researchers, Maria Lorini and Vanessa Persson, described it based on individuals from the island of Superagui in the Brazilian state of Paraná. Shortly after additional populations were discovered on the adjacent mainland in Paraná and in the far southern São Paulo. The specific name caissara is a reference to the caicaras, the local people of Superagui Island.
Mainland populations prefer swampy and inundated secondary forest for habitat. The island population use mainly tall lowland forest and arboreal restinga (coastal forest on sandy soils) as primary habitat. Both populations strictly remain at altitudes below 40 m (130 ft).
The black-faced lion tamarin is an arboreal species and primarily eats small fruits and invertebrates such as insect, spiders and snails. They are also known to drink nectar, eat the young leaves of bromeliads and consume mushrooms. They are thought to supplement parts of their diet with mushrooms during the dry season.
The black-faced lion tamarin lives in extended family groups with 2-8 members. Within these families there is normally only one breeding female per season. Births typically occur from September to March and females normally give birth to twins. Social interaction is a key component in maintaining a reproductive system such as this. Grooming is the most common form of affiliative behavior seen by the species specifically between the breeding pair.
The black-faced lion tamarin has such a specific habitat preference and low population (400 individuals in total, of which approximately half are mature) that habitat loss is the greatest threat to the species. Agriculture, development, fragmentation and extraction of heart-of-palm are the leading causes for their habitat loss. It is also threatened from the illegal pet trade, hunting, increased tourism and inbreeding depression.
Protection and conservation projects
The black-faced lion tamarin is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, included on the Endangered Species Act and is listed on CITES Appendix I. Within Brazil, it is included on the national Official List of Species Threatened with Extinction and it is also on regional lists by both the Paraná and São Paulo states.
The Superagüi National Park covers most of the black-faced lion tamarin home ranges including Superagui Island and adjacent mainland parts of the state of Paraná. The national park is 33,988 hectares large and the black-faced lion tamarin is one of the endemic species that is used as a conservation unit for management of the park. The population in São Paulo is protected in the Jacupiranga State Park.
The Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas (IPE) began the black-faced lion tamarin conservation program in 1996 and through 2004 focused on learning the ecology and natural history of the species. In 2005, enough data was collected to create the first conservation action plan for the black-faced lion tamarin and its habitat. As well as collecting additional data, from 2005 to 2007 IPE completed a diagnostic of threats to the survival of the species. The IPE then hosted the first Eco-Negotiation Workshop in Ariri (São Paulo) in 2009, with a focus on education and awareness of sustainable production. Currently some of their objectives include evaluating dispersal of young, refine the projected population, observe the effects of sea rise due to climate change, and promote sustainable harvest of heart-of-palm.
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- Kierulff, M. C. M., Rylands, A. B., Mendes, S. L. & de Oliveira, M. M. (2008). Leontopithecus caissara. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Russell A. Mittermeier et al. Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2004–2006 "Primate Conservation" 2006
- Kleiman, Devra G. and Jeremy J. C. Mallinson. Recovery and Management Committees for Lion Tamarins: Partnerships in Conservation Planning and Implementation. "Society for Conservation Biology" Feb 1998
- Nascimento,Alexandre T. Amaral and Lucia A. J. Schmidlin. Habitat selection by, and carrying capacity for, the Critically Endangered black-faced lion tamarin "Leontopithecus caissara" (Primates: Callitrichidae) Fauna & Flora International, "Oryx" 2010
- Raboy, B. E. & Dietz, J. M. (2004). "Diet, Foraging, and Use of Space in Wild Golden-Headed Lion Tamarins". American Journal of Primatology 63: 1–15. doi:10.1002/ajp.20032.
- "Black-faced lion tamarin biology". ARKive.
- Gabriela Ludwig. Padrão de atividade, Hábito alimentar, Área de vida e Uso do espaço do mico-leão-de-cara-preta (Leontopithecus caissara Lorini & Persson 1990) (Primates, Callitrichidae) no Parque Nacional do Superagui, Guaraqueçaba, Estado do Paraná. "UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO PARANÁ" 2011
- Vivekananda, G. 2001. Parque Nacional do Superagui: A presença humana e os objetivos de conservação. Masters Thesis, Universidade Federal do Paraná.
- Lista Oficial de Espécies Brasileiras Ameaçadas de Extinção, Edict No. 1.522/19 December 1989, see Bernardes et al. 1990; Fonseca et al. 1994
- Brazil, Paraná SEMA, 1995
- Brazil, São Paulo SMA, 1998
- "Superagüi National Park". ParksWatch.
- "Black-Faced Lion Tamarin Conservation Program". Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
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