White-faced marmoset (Photo: Sarisha Trindade)

      Deforestation and yellow fever, which decimated thousands of monkeys in Brazil in 2017, practically wiped out the marmoset marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps). This small animal that lives in the Atlantic Forest, along with three other species, has just joined the international list of primates at serious risk of extinction. To try to save the species, the good news is that the Saguis-da-serra will be brought for assisted reproduction at UFV.

      The list of the most threatened species in the world was prepared at the beginning of the year by a group of researchers and released in August during the Brazilian Congress of Primatology, held in Mato Grosso. These researchers meet periodically to define the 25 species that are at imminent risk of disappearing from the face of the earth.

      Professor Fabiano de Melo, from the Department of Forestry, is one of the researchers who sign the articles that support the so-called Red List, which lights up the red light for the loss of primate species. Among them, four are Brazilian and two occur in the Southeast region. Fabiano is also one of the coordinators of the group of experts on this topic from the regions of Brazil and Guyana of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

      On the list are the howler monkey (Alouatta guariba), typical of the Atlantic Forest, and the Macaco-caiarara (Cebus kaapori), which occurs in some stretches of the Amazon forest, in addition to the recently discovered Zogue-zogue do Mato Grosso (Plecturocebus grovesi). Among the most threatened, marmosets are perhaps the most sensitive and in need of care. “They inhabit very devastated forests in the mountainous region of Espírito Santo and along the Doce River basin. Therefore, the population is very small and undergoes a severe process of hybridization with other invasive species, causing their original genetics to become extinct quickly”, explains the professor.

      When a species disappears, the whole world loses as the complexity of ecosystems decreases. There are significant drops in ecological interactions, evolutionary processes and ecosystem services. Professor Fabiano comments that primates are insect predators and, by eating, they control some pests. “As they are good seed dispersers, they help in planting and maintaining forests; hence the importance of preservation.”

      The researcher further explains that Brazil is one of four countries, including Madagascar, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, that are critically important for ape conservation in a global perspective. These four nations are home to 67% of the world’s 510 primate species, including 230 found nowhere else.

      Now, Professor Fabiano’s team intends to visit the forests where the Saguis-da-serra still resists in order to look for at least 10 breeding pairs in them. They will be taken to the Serra da Marmoset Conservation Center, a space created at UFV, in 2021, precisely to protect endangered species of monkeys. There, they will be accompanied so that they reproduce maintaining their original genetic characteristics.

      The expectation is that, in three years, the cubs will also breed so that they can be returned to the woods. The same was done in 2021, when researchers from the Department of Forestry took care of the reproduction of the dark-shouldered marmoset (Callithrix aurita), also known as “aurita”, which is endemic to the region of Viçosa. If there will be forests without so many fires and devastation to receive them, that is another story.

Source: Disclosure Institutional at UFV


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