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Study suggests that logging may affect monkey health

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Secondary forests, areas that have been logged and allowed to regenerate, may provide second-rate habitat for primates, even decades after the forests have been allowed to regenerate, according to a study of monkeys living in African forests.

While studying the movements of gray-cheeked mangabeys in the Kibale National Park of Uganda, Purdue University doctoral student William Olupot found some unexpected differences in weight between animals living in primary forest -- areas that have never been logged -- and those living nearby in a forest that was logged in the 1960s and '70s.

Of the 31 male mangabeys studied in the project, monkeys living within the secondary forests weighed on average 15 percent less than males living in relatively untouched primary forests.

"The lower body weights were not related to the skeletal measurements or the age of the animals, which means that these differences might be attributed to different nutritional conditions and habitat quality," Olupot says. "These are only preliminary data, but they suggest that additional studies may be needed to compare the weight of animals living in logged forests to those living in primary forests."

Olupot, a citizen of Uganda, found the differences in weight while tagging animals for a three-year study designed to analyze the dispersal rates of mangabey males. The study, funded by the National Geographic Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rockefeller Foundation, uses a radio-tracking device to follow the monkeys' movements within their own geographic boundaries and social group, and to track how frequently they migrate into other social groups.

The study, which was part of Olupot's doctoral thesis, will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Conservation Biology. Olupot received his doctorate in December and is now a senior research scientist at the Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest Gorilla Reserve in Uganda.

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Contact: Susan Gaidos
sgaidos@uns.purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
27-Feb-2000


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