This study examines how habitat structure affects the home range use of a group of Brachyteles hypoxanthus in the Brigadeiro State Park, Brazil. It has been reported that most of the annual feeding time of woolly spider monkeys is spent eating leaves, but they prefer fruits when available. We hypothesise that the protein-to-fibre ratio (PF; best descriptor of habitat quality for folivorous primates) is a better descriptor of habitat quality and abundance for these primates than the structural attributes of forests (basal area is the best descriptor of habitat quality for frugivorous primates of Africa and Asia). We evaluated plant community structure, successional status, and PF of leaf samples from the dominant tree populations, both within the core and from a non-core area of the home range of our study group. Forest structure was a combination of stem density and basal area of dominant tree populations. The core area had larger trees, a higher forest basal area, and higher stem density than the non-core area. Mean PF did not differ significantly between these sites, although PF was influenced by differences in tree regeneration guilds. Large-bodied monkeys could be favoured by later successional stages of forests because larger trees and denser stems prevent the need for a higher expenditure of energy for locomotion as a consequence of vertical travel when the crowns of trees are disconnected in early successional forests. Forest structure variables (such as basal area of trees) driven by succession influence woolly spider monkey abundance in a fashion similar to frugivorous monkeys of Asia and Africa, and could explain marked differences in ranging behaviour and home range use by B. hypoxanthus.
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