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a rainforest bestiary
A Rainforest Bestiary
  • “Animal life is, on the whole, far more abundant and more varied within the tropics than in any other par of the globe, and a great number of peculiar groups are found there which never extend into temperate regions. Endless eccentricities of form, and extreme richness of colour are its most prominent features, and these are manifested in the highest degree in those equatrorial lands where the vegetation acquirers its greatest beauty and its fullest development” Wallace
a rainforest bestiary mammals
A Rainforest BestiaryMammals
  • As a group, rainforest mammals tend to be secretive and mostly nocturnal, making them difficult to see
a rainforest bestiary monkeys
A Rainforest BestiaryMonkeys
  • Neotropical monkeys all belong to a group named the platyrrhines (nostril position, open at the sides), but their prehensile tails are the obvious trait
  • A minimum of 49 sp in the Neotropics
  • Occupy a variety of niches in various kinds of forest
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Range from large, apelike monkeys (spider, woolly, howler) to medium-sized ‘typical’ monkeys (e.g. capuchins, and squirrel monkeys), monkeys with bald faces (uakaris), monkeys with long, shaggy fur (sakis), nocturnal (owl monkeys or douroucouli), small lemur-like monkeys (marmosets) and squirrel-like monkeys (tamarins)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Typical monkeys are Cebidae while tamarins and marmosets are Callitricidae
  • Occur all across all forest types, but reach there greatest numbers in lowland rainforest
  • Strongly arboreal
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Although there are many species, there are a few areas in which there are no ecological equivalents to some OW sp
  • All NW monkeys are forest monkeys (vs. baboons of the AF savanna)
  • There are no great apes (howler @ 20lb)
  • Spider monkeys are similar to Gibbons
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Capuchins (4 sp) range from C Am through Amazonia and are very abundant
  • Relatively small (0.3-0.6m; 1-4kg)
  • Pale brown to black fur with whitish face
  • Travel in troops (5-30)
  • Omnivorous, eat palm seeds
  • Important seed dispersers
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Titi monkeys (3sp; 8subsp) and are smaller than capuchins
  • Thick fur around face
  • Small groups (2-6)
  • Non-prehensile tail
  • Thick jungle (bamboo)
  • Dawn chorus
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Squirrel moneys (3sp) are widespread occuring into C Am
  • Smaller than capuchins
  • Gallery, lowland, and early succession forests
  • Big troops (20-100)
  • Fruits and insects
  • Estimated 50-80/mi2
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Night monkeys (or douroucouli) are small (1 kg) and truly noctornal (9sp)
  • Throughout SAm into C
  • 2-5 roost in tree cavities
  • Forage ground to canopy
  • Fruits, insects, nestlings
  • Body positioning, not face
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Uakaris (2sp) are med-large monkeys in the gallery forests of the upper reaches of Amazon
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Short, hairy, non-prehensile tails
  • Groups of 10-30 sp forage on fruits, leaves, flowers, arthropods (especially caterpillars)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • The sakis (4 sp) and bearded sakis (2 sp) are similar to uakaris, but have hair on face and have longer tails
  • Very good leapers
  • Small groups (<5)
  • Frugivores of rainforest canopy
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Spider monkeys occur from Mexico thru Amazon (5 sp; geographically distinct)
  • Rather large (6+kg), but very long limbs and long prehensile tail (.5-.9m)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Troops typically consist of 8 males, 15 females and 10 young of various ages
  • Maybe bachelor male troops
  • Move by brachiation
  • 80% fruit 20% leaves
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Both species of wooly spider monkey (or muriqui) are found in Atlantic rainforest
  • Numbers greatly reduced
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Woolly monkeys have very thick fur, which can be black, gray, reddish
  • Some widespread (e.g. common WM) but others rare (e.g. yellow-tailed WM)
  • Relatively large (10kg)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Woollies have prehensile tails and are arboreal acrobats
  • Group frugivores (2-60)
  • Probably most intensely hunted monkey
  • Low reproductive rate = trouble
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Howler monkeys (6sp) are large (10+ kg) and the best studied monkey in the Neotropics
  • Amazon to Yucatan
  • All sp are subtly different in color morph
  • Most sp in trouble
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Howlers are named for their ferocious voice, which they use at dusk & dawn
  • Enlarged throat sac (♂) and tracheal cartilage resonate and amplify voice
  • Males 30% larger
  • Clans vary in size (4-35)
  • Live in many low forest
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Diet 64% leaves (mostly young), 18% flowers, 12% fruit, 6% leaf petioles
  • This maximizes protein, minimizes secondary compounds and fibers
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Marmosets (4sp) and tamarins (11sp) are small monkeys that are active & v. arboreal
  • Tails are non-prehensile
  • Forest dwellers, frequent gaps (why?)
  • Feed upon fruits and insects (and some sapsuck)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • It is difficult to determine both the geographic range of marmosets as well as the correct status of subspecies
  • Too small to hunt, but nice pets
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Tamarins are similar to marmosets, frequently having tufts of hair forming moustaches, topknots, or ruffs
  • Most restricted to Amazonia
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Golden lion tamarin is the most endangered of Neotropical primate (probably from deforestation… it does OK with disturbance)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Tamarins and marmosets are unusual among primates for their flexile breeding systems.
  • They tend toward mongamy, though most primates are highly polygynous
  • In fact, they may exhibit polyandry
  • Groups consist of 4-6 adults, with one dominant female doing all the breeding
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • The saddleback tamarin displays both polyandry and cooperative breeding
  • A dominant female breeds, but juveniles stay and help raise siblings
  • Why help?
a rainforest bestiary rodents
A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Most species of mammals have a large pair of continuously growing, chisel-like incisor in which they gnaw everything
  • Why…
    • about 44% of all mammals are rodents!!
  • The rodent assemblage consist of colonizers from afar (e.g. tree squirrels, pocket mice, rice rats) and several groups unique to the Neotropics
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Some groups unique to the Neotropics include the porcupines, spiny rats, agoutis, paca, and capybara (all Cavimorphs)
  • Other cavimorhs include the guinea pig, chinchillas, and NA porcupine
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Agoutis (6sp) are one of the most common of the larger rodents ranging from Mex to Argentina
  • Primarily diurnal and forest dwellers
  • 60-75cm bodies, 1-3.5kg
  • Reddish brown to black
  • Feed like this (seed fruit)
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Very important seed dispersers as the practice ‘scatter hoarding’
  • Why do this?
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • When agoutis retire for evening, they are replaced by another rodent…
  • They often appear near water
  • Monogamous, but forage solo and the male has his own place!!
  • Similar to agoutis, but with stripes and larger with shorter legs (up to 10kg)


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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Pacas are also frugivores, but also take other leaf matter
  • It is tasty meat…
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Capybara, the world’s largest rodent is highly aquatic
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Porcupines and dwarf porcupines (15 sp) all look like porcupines and have prehensile tails
  • All have sort faces with large, bulbous noses and small eyes and ears
  • Diet is fruits, bark, and leaves
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Spiny rats and tree rats (60-100sp) are te most diverse cavimorph rodents
  • Spiny rats may be the most abundant mammal in the rainforest, but solitary and nocturnal
  • Hairs in hind quarter area have spines (no barbs)
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Tails can break off when predator approaches
  • Closely related to tree rats (they are found on the forest floor)
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • Netropical trees harbor a great number of tree squirrels (18sp)
  • These rodents invaded during the GAI
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A Rainforest Bestiaryrodents
  • There are a group of mice known as the spiny pocket mice that look and act like the deer mice and white-footed mice of temperate America
  • They are granivores
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Collared and white-lipped peccaries
  • Members of the Artiodactyles
  • Although similar to pigs, own family
  • Upper canines point straight down and are sharp
  • Highly social (3-30)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Collared found throughout SAm and into Mexico in savannas and forests
  • 23-30kg
  • Forage on roots, bulbs, stems, leaves and fruits (also arthropods and small vertebrates)
  • Can be aggressive
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • White-lipped peccary can occur in large herds (50-300) in the rainforest
  • They can be v. aggressive
  • Frugivores
  • They have a bite 1.3x harder than collared peccaries…so what?
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Tapirs (4 sp; 3 NW) are Perissodactyls and are related to horses and rhino’s
  • Stocky and almost hairless (but a short mane) with an elongated probiscus
  • Select plants somewhat on odor
  • Vegetarians
  • 3 sp separated by range and habitat
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Brazilian (or lowland) Tapir is the most widespread is found throughout Amazonia
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Baird’s tapir ranges throughout C Am and northern S Am, west of the Andes
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Mountain tapir has the most restricted range and is confined to higher elevations (east side of Andes)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Tapirs and peccaries are widely hunted and thus tend to be very wary (also making them somewhat difficult to see)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Armadillos, anteaters, and sloths are Neotropical (expect 1) and are in the family Xenarthra (peglike teeth)
  • Anteaters are toothless (edentate), but the others are peglike and have other skeletal modifications that unite the group
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • One of the most common anteaters is the (0.6m) tamandua (2 sp, N and S)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Anteaters from around the world look alike…why?
  • They have long, pointed snouts, formidable curved claws, prominent ears, and a long, prehensile tail (coat is variable)
  • Will feed on the ground or in trees (termites, ants, and sometimes bees)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • An anteater exploring a tree in the cerrado of Brazil
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Giant anteater is terrestrial and is big (body 1.2m and 1m tail)
  • A 50cm tongue
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Pygmy anteater is small (0.5m) and is nocturnal as well as arboreal
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • The three-toed sloth is the most common sloth, although don’t count on seeing it…
  • It is one of 3 sp
  • Once thought to forage in cecropia exclusively, now know otherwise
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Two-toed sloths (2 sp) are larger, but otherwise similar
  • Both have 12 toes..
  • More confined to forests
  • Distantly related to three toed’s (more closely related to giant ground sloths)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Many species of armadillos, one of which successfully invaded the northern temperate zone (9-banded)
  • Largely found in savannas
  • Nocturnal insectivores
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Northern migration of 9-banded…
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Giant armadillo ranges throughout much of S Am, but is widely hunted for its meat and as such, is now listed by CITES
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Tropical raccoons and weasels range as far south as Panama
  • Tropical members of the Procyonidae include the coatimundi, kinkajou, and olingo (and the crab-eating raccoon)
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Coatimundi (2 sp) occurs in most habitats
  • Travel in small groups
  • Males usually solo
  • 63cm body
  • 33-70cm tail
  • Non-prehensile
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • The kinkajou is smaller than a coatimundi, has a very prehensile tail
  • Forest dweller
  • Nocturnal
  • Frugivore, with some meat
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • The Olingo looks like a kinkajou, but is a different color and lacks a prehensile tail
  • Most humid forests
  • Nocturnal and arboreal
  • Fruits and small animals
  • Perhaps 6 sp
a rainforest bestiary mustelids
A Rainforest BestiaryMustelids
  • The weasal family (Mustelidae) has several interesting members in the tropics
  • The tayra (0.6m) lacks a prehensile tail but is good tree climber
  • Omnivores
  • Dens in tree cavity
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A Rainforest Bestiary Mustelids
  • The grison is a low-cal version of a badger
  • Found throughout lowlands and savannas
  • Carnivore
  • 2nd sp (high elevation)
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A Rainforest Bestiary Mustelids
  • There are several tropical skunks
  • A few temperate species range into the tropics, but also several strictly tropical species (e.g. several hog-nosed skunks)
a rainforest bestiary felines
A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • The top cat in the tropics is the jaugar
  • The largest (1.8m), ranges from northern Mexico through Patagonia, now hanging on in deep Amazon, montane forests and other remote sites
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A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • Jaguars are dietary and ecological generalists (although take many of the larger tropical animals)
  • ‘yaguar’ means ‘he who kills in one leap’
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A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • The ocelot and margay are much more common than jaguars
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A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • Another forgotten feline is the oncilla (F. tigrina), a cat ½ the size of the margay
  • Very little is known about this cat
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A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • The Jaguarundi is one of the most commonly seen tropical cats
  • Common and diurnal
  • Short legs and long tail
  • 0.9m with 0.6m tail
  • solitary
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A Rainforest BestiaryFelines
  • The puma occurs throughout S Am, C Am, and N Am
  • Wide-ranging
  • solitary
a rainforest bestiary marsupials
A Rainforest BestiaryMarsupials
  • Marsupials, not just for Australia
  • Until recently (GAI), S Am had a very impressive marsupial fauna (e.g. sabre-toothed tiger and marsupial sabre-toothed tiger)
  • Opossums have been relatively successful in the tropics
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A Rainforest BestiaryMarsupials
  • Short-tailed opossum, Brazil
a rainforest bestiary true frogs tree frogs and toads
A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • Amphibians do not lay eggs in protective eggs and as a consequence, require water
  • During the aquatic phase the animal breathes by external gill, but are reabsorbed during metamorphosis
  • Most require moisture for their skins, though toads can survive without it
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • Salamanders are one of the few exceptions to the latitudinal diversity gradients (low in tropics)
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • There are 4000 species of anurans in the world and 1600 or so occur in the Neotropics
  • Some sites, 80 sp can co-occur
  • While many follow traditional life-cycles, others depart
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • Many give birth to fully formed miniature adults
  • Eggs laid on plants and larvae drop into water below
  • Eggs laid on land, but in foam nests
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • The constant moistness of much of the tropical rainforest (and cloud forest) has allowed an impressive radiation of reproductive strategies among anurans
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • The males guards the eggs for 10-12 days after which, the female takes each tadpole to a bromeliad (each gets their own), later returning with unfertilized eggs for the developing frogs
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • Tree frogs are arboreal and are aided by the tiny suction disks on their feet
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • Glass frogs are small green tree frogs with somewhat transparent bellies
  • They attach to leaves and drop eggs into water, tadpoles become bright red and burrow into stagnant litter
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • The Dendrobatidae are among the most famous of the tropical animals
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • They are diurnal ant and termite hunters
  • Mate on land, females carry off fertilized eggs to the water
  • Juveniles solict food from mom and she will bring them unfertilized eggs
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A Rainforest BestiaryTrue Frogs, Tree Frogs, and Toads
  • other species also have toxic skin, such as the giant cane toad (largest of the NW anurans)
  • Even cane toad tadpoles have toxic skin
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A Rainforest Bestiary
  • Thanks and we’ll see you in the morning!