An Assessment of the Population of Cotton-Top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) and Their Habitat in Colombia

Savage, Anne; Thomas, Len; Feilen, Katie L.; Kidney, Darren; Soto, Luis H.; Pearson, Mackenzie; Medina, Felix S.; Emeris, German; Guillen, Rosamira R.
December 2016
PLoS ONE;12/28/2016, Vol. 11 Issue 12, p1
Academic Journal
Numerous animals have declining populations due to habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade, and climate change. The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is a Critically Endangered primate species, endemic to northwest Colombia, threatened by deforestation and illegal trade. In order to assess the current state of this species, we analyzed changes in the population of cotton-top tamarins and its habitat from 2005 to 2012. We used a tailor-made “lure strip transect” method to survey 43 accessible forest parcels that represent 30% of the species’ range. Estimated population size in the surveyed region was approximately 2,050 in 2005 and 1,900 in 2012, with a coefficient of variation of approximately 10%. The estimated population change between surveys was -7% (a decline of approximately 1.3% per year) suggesting a relatively stable population. If densities of inaccessible forest parcels are similar to those of surveyed samples, the estimated population of cotton-top tamarins in the wild in 2012 was 6,946 individuals. We also recorded little change in the amount of suitable habitat for cotton-top tamarins between sample periods: in 2005, 18% of surveyed forest was preferred habitat for cotton-top tamarins, while in 2012, 17% percent was preferred. We attribute the relatively stable population of this Critically Endangered species to increased conservation efforts of Proyecto Tití, conservation NGOs, and the Colombian government. Due to continued threats to cotton-top tamarins and their habitat such as agriculture and urban expansion, ongoing conservation efforts are needed to ensure the long-term survival of cotton-top tamarins in Colombia.


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