A BIOLOGY OF PRIMATE EXTINCTION, AT TWO TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL SCALES.
In New Perspectives on Primate Evolution and Behaviour, ed. C. S. Harcourt & B. Sherwood. pp. . Westbury Press, UK.
Can we detect attributes that predispose taxa to extinction? To elucidate the process of past extinction, and hence of evolution, I ask this question by searching for biological differences between susceptible and less susceptible extant primate taxa at two temporal and spatial scales. What traits distinguish taxa that a) decrease population density in secondary forest by comparison to adajcent tracts of intact forest?; b) apparently succumb to the fragmentation of the Sunda Shelf produced by the end-Pleistocene rise of sea levels 10,000 years ago. In both analyses, phylogeny was accounted for. Taxa at risk from habitat alteration are those with large home ranges in the intact forest and, perhaps, low maximum latitude. Taxa not found on small islands (and presumed to have gone extinct on them) are comparatively large-bodied, exist at low density, have large year range, low maximum latitude, and, perhaps, large geographic range. In general, obligate high requirements for resources, and lack of plasticity might explain the suite of risky traits at both scales. At the longer-term, regional scale of major fragmentation of habitat, rarity could be an additional factor. All the correlates are measurable or deducible in fossils.