The Golden-headed Lion Tamarin is one of the native species to Brazilian Atlantic Forest which is still endangered despite conservation works.
The Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the Earth’s tropical rainforests, is ranked among the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots thanks to the animal and plant wealth it preserves. This biome has experienced major environmental changes induced by human activities. Today, only a tiny part of the original Atlantic Forest remains, which is itself highly fragmented. Its current extent is about 95 000 km2 – 7.3% of its original area (1290700 km2).
Habitat fragmentation as a result of changes in native land use in addition to the global problem of climate change have endangered many populations of animal species in the Brazilian forest.
Animals living in fragmented and degraded habitats generally face increased threats such as the availability of food and water and exposure to new pathogens or viruses. The survival of native species is therefore strongly linked to their ability to cope with changes in habitat.
The Brazilian Atlantic Forest, and despite its current critical condition, continues to be threatened by logging and agricultural expansion, particularly soybean production.
The Brazilan Atlantic Forest is home to a great wealth of animal life, including 934 species of birds, 264 of mammals, 311 of reptiles and 456 of amphibians. A large number of these species are threatened or even disappeared (the Hocco mitou).
The Lion Tamarin, particularly the Golden-headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), is among the native species of the Brazilan Atlantic Forest which is endangered (no more critically endangered). Currently, it lives in southern Bahia in eastern Brazil, in a total forest area of around 20000 km2 with an estimated number of only 1500 individuals.
The altered environment of the area occupied by the Golden-headed Lion Tamarin tends to have low biodiversity, which could increase stressors to this small-population specie, including parasite pressure and high levels of glucocorticoids. In previous studies of howler monkeys, it was proven that animals living in a fragmented forest have higher levels of glucocorticoids than animals living in the original forest.
This species also has a complex diet. It prefers high protein and fiber foods depending on the availability of fruit. Parasites may be transmitted through their diet by sharing infected invertebrates, but most likely this transmission takes place through social grooming, a common behavior in monkeys.
This parasitic infection is one of the questions about how Tamarins will adapt to their altered habitats. Understanding how these stressors will modify health and reproduction parameters will help maintain the survival of this species in the long term.