Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Modeling Bearded Capuchin Monkey Habitat

Bearded Capuchin monkeys have recently become a topic of great interest within the scientific community. Found in northeastern Brazil, they have garnered attention due to an odd behavior they exhibit: they use stone tools to get to the meat inside of palm nuts, cracking the casings. Scientists want to research the monkeys further, but are concerned that suitable monkey habitat is rapidly disappearing due to industrial agriculture.

Here’s where remote sensing comes in: a team at the University of Maryland and the University of Georgia observed Capuchins and recorded their activities with GPS, while a multi-spectral satellite image was used to determine land cover/land use. Next, an NDVI was developed and researchers mapped the density of the vegetation in the study area. The team also added factors into the model such as elevation, bare soil, shadow and percentages of green vegetation.

The researchers took all of this information into account and turned it into a habitat model. Red and warmer colors are areas with high habitat suitability, while blue and cooler colors represent lower suitability. By mapping the areas of suitable monkey habitat, researchers are better prepared to protect those habitats that are the largest priority and most used by the monkeys.

Credit: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing doi:10.1117/1.JRS.9.096020 (© the authors)

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