Thursday 25 February 2016

Sudden recent howler monkey deaths in Nicaragua

Date:February 25, 2016
Source:University of Michigan

Two University of Michigan-based scientists are leading an effort to explain the recent deaths of at least 75 howler monkeys living in the tropical forests of southwestern Nicaragua.

Liliana Cortés-Ortiz and Kimberly Williams-Guillén are assembling a multi-institution team of experts to test various scenarios that might explain the Nicaraguan deaths, which come on the heels of smaller howler monkey mortality events in Ecuador and Panama.

"It's really, really, really unusual to see this many monkeys sick all at once and to see this many monkeys dead all at once," said ecologist Williams-Guillén, a visiting scholar at U-M's School of Natural Resources and Environment who has studied wild howler monkeys in Nicaragua since 1999.

Williams-Guillén is also the director of conservation science for Paso Pacífico, an environmental nonprofit that works in Nicaragua's Pacific forests. She said her group has confirmed at least 75 deaths reported by Nicaraguan landowners and forest rangers, 70 of them since mid-January.

Williams-Guillén plans to return to Nicaragua in a few days to investigate the monkey deaths and to look for other sick or recently deceased howlers.

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