Phylogenetic constraints on fine-scale patterns of habitat use by eight primate species in eastern Ecuador

Seema Nayan Sheth, Bette A. Loiselle, John G. Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Lowland forests of western Amazonia contain the most species-rich primate communities in the Neotropics, which begs the question of what mechanisms operate to promote species coexistence. This study examines habitat occupancy and its relationship to phylogeny in a primate community in Amazonian Ecuador. First, as potential factors that shape community structure, we determined whether (1) mean height in the forest canopy differed among species; (2) within each species, habitat occupancy was disproportional to habitat availability; and (3) species diverged in habitat occupancy. We then tested hypotheses regarding ecological distance and its relationship to phylogenetic distance among species pairs within this community. We tested these hypotheses primarily with data derived from 15 censuses of primate species on two 100-ha plots in eastern Ecuador. In these censuses, we observed eight primate species over nearly 200 encounters. We observed larger species at greater heights in the forest canopy than smaller ones. Although they occupied habitat types at frequencies proportionate to their availability in the study area, species diverged in habitat occupancy. Although a clear relationship was not observed between phylogenetic and ecological distances among species pairs, this study suggests that ecological differences among the species in this community facilitate their coexistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-582
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Amazon
  • Atelidae
  • Cebidae
  • Community structure
  • Habitat use
  • Neotropical primates
  • Niche conservatism
  • Pitheciidae
  • Species coexistence

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