Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Jessica A. Mayhew

Second Committee Member

April K. Binder

Third Committee Member

Katherine R. Amato


Central and South American primates face augmented challenges due to increased rates of forest fragmentation. Among these challenges are implications on the nonhuman primate gut microbiome. Wild Argentine black and gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya) are listed as “least concern” with a population that is decreasing. Despite their propensity to occupy habitats with varying degrees of degradation and disturbance, they are not immune from the stressors that forest fragmentation places on them. Their increased exposure to humans and livestock leaves them vulnerable to cross-species transmission of emerging infectious diseases and pathogens. Therefore, their role as sentinels of ecosystems, as well as a greater comprehension of what aspects of habitat are driving the gut microbiome, merits conservation and research. I seek to add to our understanding of what habitat factors are driving a sentinel species’ health via the gut microbiome. Here I examine fragment size, the subsequent exigency of ground movement, and overlapping home ranges to determine whether there is variation in the gut microbiome of Argentine black and gold howler monkeys due to these factors.