Primate Laboratory

Estación de Biología "Los Tuxtlas", Instituto de Biología Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Wild primate populations are found in the southeastern part of Mexico. These are two species of howler monkeys (Alouatta pallliata, A. pigra), one endemic to the region of Mesoamerica shared by Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, and another with a much wider geographical distribution in the Neotropics. Spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) are respresented by two subspecies, one widely distributed and the other endemic to the Yucatan peninsula.

These primate species are the northernmost Neotropical primates in the continent and little is known about them. Such information is fundamental to increase our knowledge regarding their basic biology, ecology and behavior and to promote the conservation of the species and to understand their responses to changes in the distribution of their natural habitat as a result of human activity.

Primate research in Los Tuxtlas revolves around population studies, ecological studies, social behavior and dynamics studies, conservation studies. The training of university students is an integral part of this program.

To accomplish the above, we have concentrated our attention in the following three localities in south-eastern Mexico. Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz (V), our base of operations, has led our long-term investigations on the ecology, behavior and conservation of howler and spider monkeys. Other sites are located in the Mexican states of Tabasco (T), Chiapas (CH) and Campeche (C).

These four states of southern México not only harbor the northernmost representatives of the Primate Order in the Neotropics, but were also the cradle of two of the most important civilizations in pre-european times: the Olmec and the Maya. Many of the Olmec and Mayan archaeological sites are covered by rain forest vegetation inhabited by howler and/or spider monkeys.

Our research has also encompassed field surveys of primates in Bermiuda Landing, Belize (B) and in Tikal, Guatemala (G) to obtain comparative data on populations of howler and spider monkeys.


Research areas encompassed with primates by our research team

















As part of the infrastructure present at the field station Los Tuxtlas (see field station link in frontgpage), the primate laboratory houses computer facilities, our data banks, other scientifc equipment, a specialized library of books and reprints on primate studies, and storage for biological samples.

The lab also provides working space for students and scientists that collaborate with us, and access to Internet is a recent addition. The lab is surrounded by rainforest and it is quite common for howlers and, sometimes, spider monkeys and other forest wildlife, to "hang around" the lab.

For further information about the activities of the Primate Laboratory of the Estación de Biología "Los Tuxtlas", IB-UNAM, write to: [email protected]

Links of interest

Select here for Links to academic associations, data banks and other about primates


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Copyright @ 2004 Alejandro Estrada