Behavioral Correlates of Primates Conservation Status: Intrinsic Vulnerability to Anthropogenic Threats

Abstract

Behavioral traits are likely to influence species vulnerability to anthropogenic threats and in consequence, their risk of extinction. Several studies have addressed this question and have highlighted a correlation between reproductive strategies and different viability proxies, such as introduction success and local extinction risk. Yet, very few studies have investigated the effective impact of social behaviour, and evidence regarding global extinction risk remains scant. Here we examined the effects of three main behavioral factors: the group size, the social and reproductive system, and the strength of sexual selection on global extinction risk. Using Primates as biological model, we performed comparative analysis on 93 species. The conservation status as described by the IUCN Red List was considered as a proxy for extinction risk. In addition, we added previously identified intrinsic factors of vulnerability to extinction, and a measure of the strength of the human impact for each species, described by the human footprint. Our analysis highlighted a significant effect of two of the three studied behavioral traits, group size and social and reproductive system. Extinction risk is negatively correlated with mean group size, which may be due to an Allee effect resulting from the difficulties for solitary and monogamous species to find a partner at low densities. Our results also indicate that species with a flexible mating system are less vulnerable. Taking into account these behavioral variables is thus of high importance when establishing conservation plans, particularly when assessing species relative vulnerability.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135585

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@inproceedings{Lootvoet2015BehavioralCO, title={Behavioral Correlates of Primates Conservation Status: Intrinsic Vulnerability to Anthropogenic Threats}, author={Am{\'e}lie Christelle Lootvoet and Justine Philippon and Carmen Bessa-Gomes and Rafael D. Loyola}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2015} }