(Other Names: Barizo Dorsirrojo, Black-crowned Central American or Red-backed Squirrel Monkey, Mono Ardilla, Mono Titi, Saïmiri à Dos Roux, Singe-écureuil à Dos Rouge or à Dos Roux)
Saimiri oerstedii (Sometimes treated as a subspecies of S. sciureus)
1. Profile (Picture)
The Central American squirrel monkey weighs up to about 1 kg (2.2 lb). It is found in primary and secondary forests and cultivated areas. Disturbed habitats are advantageous because of their greater supply of preferred food - insects (such as grasshoppers) and fruit. The Central American squirrel monkey is arboreal and diurnal. It rarely travels on the ground and is most active in the morning and late afternoon.
Central American squirrel monkeys have large group sizes (40 - 70 individuals) in continuous forest. They are non-aggressive and egalitarian - neither males nor females appear to be dominant. Females are usually the ones who disperse to another troop.
The Central American squirrel monkey has always been restricted to the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica and Panama. By 1983, the Central American squirrel monkey had already declined drastically due to clearing of forests. Currently, deforestation and habitat fragmentation due to agriculture and tourism development are the major causes of decline. Insecticide spraying, the pet trade and electrocution from electric power lines have also adversely affected these squirrel monkeys.
*** The Central American squirrel monkey rarely descends to the ground; therefore, any break in the forest, such as for roads or for telephone or electric power line rights of way, can severely fragment a troop's habitat.
*** Biologists are concerned that this shy monkey may be easily stressed by crowds of enthusiastic tourists, who throw stones and shake tree branches in an attempt to see the monkeys (Jukofsky 1996).
*** Central American squirrel monkeys travel and forage almost exclusively on branches between 1 - 2 cm (0.4 - 0.8") in diameter and rarely make horizontal leaps longer than 2 m (6.6') (Boinski et al. 1998).
The Central American squirrel monkey has always been restricted to the Pacific wet lowlands of Costa Rica and Panama. For more than a decade, it was thought to have become extinct in Panama until a small population was discovered in 1996.
The Central American squirrel monkey has a restricted range (1367 sq km (528 sq mi)), its distribution is fragmented, and it occurs in only a few remaining forest areas. It has lost 80% of its historic habitat. The Central American squirrel monkey includes two subspecies: S. oerstedii oerstedii is centered on the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific coast as far south as the Burica Peninsula in Panama; and S. oerstedii citrinellus has a very restricted range on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. (IUCN 2006)
It has been argued that squirrel monkeys were probably introduced into Central America from South America by prehispanic Amerind traders. Convincing evidence now exists that S. oerstedii was present in Central America prior to the arrival of humans, and it is distinguished from squirrel monkeys in South America in numerous respects. (Boinski et al. 1998)
By 1983, the Central American squirrel monkey had already declined drastically through clearing of forests. Currently, deforestation and habitat fragmentation due to agriculture (including both agribusiness and the small farmer) and tourism development are the major causes of decline. Insecticide spraying, the pet trade and electrocution from electric power lines have also adversely affected these squirrel monkeys.
Animals of the Rainforest, Boinski et al. 1998, Cons. Intl. 2005, Cummins 2003, Burton & Pearson 1987, InfoNatura, Inst. Ciên. Biol., IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Jukofsky 1996, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Univ. Buf. Lib.
Last modified: September 10, 2006;