ALEJANDRO ESTRADA Ph.D/C. V. (abbreviated - July 2007)


Estación de Biología "Los Tuxtlas"

Instituto de Biología

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Apartado Postal 176

San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, México

TEL/FAX: (200) 125-5405


Email [email protected]  

web page






PERSONAL: Born in Mexico City, but I have lived most of my life where primate populations exist: the tropical rain forest. I am based at the field station Los Tuxtlas of the University of Mexico (UNAM) located in the region of Los Tuxtlas in southern Veracruz. Although I was trained as a primate ethologist, I am a naturalist in the tradition of Aldo Leopold, Alexander Von Humboldt, Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorez. I research questions about the natural history of primates and other rain forest animals and about the proximate causes of behavior. The research I have conducted over many years with primates in the tropical rain forests of southern Mexico has not only taught me a great deal about the behavior and natural history of howler and spider monkeys, but these studies have also been like a “window” through which I have seen many other aspects of the fascinating life of the forest. These experiences led me, over the years, to diversify my research interests embarking in a great adventure of personal discovery. Such adventure involved studying other fauna, such as birds, bats and other arboreal mammals that share the forest with the primates. Being a witness for many years to the dramatic loss of large extensions of tropical rain forest by human activity in southern Mexico raised my concern about the conservation of the organisms that I have studied for so long. As a result, I developed a series of research projects aimed at documenting and understanding how animal population are responding to the loss and fragmentation of their natural habitats, with the expectation that this could lead to measures to prevent further losses.  


ACADEMIC APPOINTMENT: Senior Research Scientist and Head Laboratory of Primatology, Biological Research Station Los Tuxtlas, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad  Nacional Autónoma de México (1978-present).


OTHER APPOINTMENTS: President, Mexican Society of Primatology (1988-1991); Director, Biological Research Station Los Tuxtlas (University of Mexico) (1978-1983). Primate Specialist Group IUCN-present



  • Natural Sciences Award 1987, Mexican Academy of Sciences
  • Conservation Award 1987, American Society of Primatologists




·        Highest degree: Ph.D Ecology, evolution and behaviour of non human primates. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. 1978.




  • Population, ecology, behaviour and conservation of wild primates (Alouatta and Ateles) in southern Mexico. The purpose of this research program is to gather basic information about (1) size of wild primate populations in geographical regions of interest in southern Mexico, (2) use of food resources and use of habitat in selected primate populations, (3) primates as seed dispersal agents (4)  conservation of wild populations.


  • Frugivory and seed dispersal by mammals and birds and their impact on tropical rain forest dynamics and regeneration.  Specifically we are interested in investigating the role of mammals (primates and bats) and birds as seed dispersal agents and the consequences of such interactions in (a) the reproductive strategy of the plant species involved and in the foraging strategies of frugivores and (b) the impact of such interactions in the natural process of rain forest regeneration


  • Effects of tropical rain forest fragmentation on the conservation of biodiversity: mammals, birds and dung beetles. We are interested in documenting the demographic and behavioral responses of bats, birds, non flying mammals and dung beetles to habitat loss and isolation and to the configuration of human modified landscapes.


  • Forest fragmentation and primate populations in southern Mexico. The demographic and behavioral responses of primate population to fragmentation of their habitats and diminished resources caused by human activity are our main concern. We use a landscape perspective to create descriptive and predictive models of how such changes with the aim of envisioning possible conservation scenarios


  • Primates in agroecosystems. Conversion of tropical rain forests to pasture lands has resulted in diminished biodiversity and in the local extinction of many plant and animal species, a serious loss for the local inhabitants. In those cases in which the forest has not been completely eradicated, some landscapes are occupied by remnant forest fragments and by patches of different types of arboreal vegetation in which complex arboreal agroecosystems (shade cacao, coffee, etc) are an important component of the local subsistence economy. To what extent these heterogeneous landscapes favor the persistence of primates and of other forest wildlife is an important questions in our research. Thus, primates, birds, bats, other non flying mammals and dung-beetles are being investigated in these habitats.





Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Mentor. Alejandro Estrada has advised and supervised research projects of over 32 undergraduate and 25 graduate students — many of which have led to publications in peer-reviewed journals. Some of his earlier students are now professors or research scientists at various institutions in Mexico.


Graduate and Undergraduate Student Interns. Alejandro Estrada has hosted student academic internships lasting from 3-12 months for over 50 students from various institutions from Mexico, Guatemala, United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Israel and Australia. Many of the projects developed in these internships resulted in publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Student and professional tutorials via Internet. Alejandro Estrada has provided technical and bibliographic tutorials via Internet to numerous undergraduate and graduate students from Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil and from the USA, UK, Belgium, Indonesia, India and Pakistan. Technical assistance via Internet on management of primates has been provided to several veterinarians and biologists working in zoos in southern Mexico and to primate biologists working on rehabilitation of captive howler monkeys in the Atlantic forests of Brazil


Grants. Alejandro Estrada has been the PI on projects funded by the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), the American Society of Primatologists, The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, The Explorer`s Club of New York, National Geographic, Primate Conservation Inc., The Cleveland Zoo Scott Neotropic Fund, EarthWatch Institute. He has also been the recipient of joint grants from the NSF/CONACYT program in collaboration with Dr. T. H. Fleming (Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Miami).


Organization of scientific meetings. Alejandro Estrada has organized international scientific meetings such as two symposium (1986, 1993) on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal (jointly with Dr. T. H. Fleming, Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Miami) held in Los Tuxtlas, the 1991 Joint Meetings of the American Society of Primatologists and the Mexican Society of Primatology held in Veracruz, Mexico. He has also organized national scientific meetings such as three symposium of the Mexican Society of Primatology (1987, 1989, 1991) and a forum of Primatology (2002) and  a meeting on Biodiversity and Primatology (2006) both held at Los Tuxtlas. These meeting have resulted in four edited books and a special issue of the journal Neotropical Primates. In collaboration wirh Drs. Paul Garber (Univ of Illinois) and Mary Pavelka (Univ of Calgary), Alejandro Estrada organized a symposium on Mesoamerican primates held at the 2004 meetings of the American Society of Primatologists at the UW-Madison. This symposium resulted in a book published by Springer Pres in 2006 (see publications)


Professional Lectures and activities to reach the public: Alejandro Estrada is regularly invited to give lectures in the Faculty of Sciences (Biology) and research institutes of various universities in southern Mexico on topics related to his research. Alejandro Estrada has provided direct input for the carrying out of educational television programs regarding wildlife and conservation of tropical rain forests for the University of Mexico, The Open University (UK), the BBC, and Sweedish television. His research on seed dispersal by primates became the primary focus of a chapter for a children´s book (“The Case of the Monkey that Fell From the Tree” by Susan E. Quinland. Boyds Mills Press Inc. Homesdale, Penn. 2003).


Professional Societies: Alejandro Estrada is an active member in professional societies such as the

·        American Society of Primatologists

·        International Society of Primatology

·        Association for Tropical Biology

·        Bat Conservation International

·        International Union for the Conservation of Nature

·        National Geographic Society

·        Society for Conservation Biology

·        Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation (MSBC)


Professional Editorial Activities

editorial board of

·        International Journal of Primatology

·        Universidad y Ciencia (Mexico)

·        Tropical Conservation Science (Executive editor)


Referee for

·       Biological Conservation

·       Conservation Biology

·       Journal of Tropical Ecology

·       American Journal of Primatology

·       Biotropica

·       International Journal of Primatology

·       Biodiversity and Conservation

·       Primates

·       Journal of Mammalogy

·       Mammalia

·       Ecography

·       Neotropical Primates

·       Acta Chiropterologica

·       Journal of Applied Ecology

·       Animal Conservation and Biodiversity

·       Universidad y Ciencia (UJAT, México)

·       Ciencia ergo sum (UNAM, Mexico)



Referee for Granting Agencies

·       National Science Foundation

·       National Geographic Society

·       Cleveland Zoo Scott Neotropic Fund

·       The Leakey Foundation

·       Lincoln Park Zoological Society

·        FONCyT, Argentina

·        CONACYT, Mexico




Presence in the Web. Alejandro Estrada designed and maintains the web site that provides information on his research projects in the tropical rain forests of southern Mexico. The site provides also bibliographic information on primate research and background information on various key aspects of his research with primates, bats and other tropical organisms, The web site has a version in Spanish and another in English.


PUBLICATIONS  - A COMPLETE LIST CAN BE OBTAINED BY ACTIVATING THIS LINK publications -some articles are accessible as PDF files.



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Copyright @ 2008 Alejandro Estrada