Current Field Research : Brownsberg Nature Park, Suriname
Brownsberg Nature Park (BNP) (5º 01' N, 55º 34' W) lies 130 km south of the capital city of Suriname, Paramaribo. BNP consists of a 530 m high lateritic plateau (the Mazaroni Plateau) and the slopes of the mountain extending to near sea level at the shore of Lake Brokopondo. The park is about 9,000 ha in size (Fitzgerald et al., 2002) and is part of a geological system of forested plateaus in north eastern Suriname. These habitats make up only about 0.5% of Suriname’s land mass (ter Steeg et al., 2000) and may be a source for endemic species. Elevational differences within the park create a variety of forest types. Thin soils on the top of the plateau support primary, secondary, and liana forests. Deeper soils on the slopes support taller trees with a relatively open understory and an abundance of waterfalls draining the upper plateau. Hans ter Steeg, Olaf Banki and Frits van Troon established eight 100² m diversity plots at various elevations on Brownsberg with all trees > 10cm DBH identified. Particularly abundant and diverse plant families included Lecythidaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Arecaceae, Vochysiaceae, and Fabaceae.
The primate community in the park consists of eight species; white-faced sakis, bearded sakis and brown capuchins are currently being studied. Other species include golden-handed tamarins (Saguinus midas), black spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus), wedge-capped capuchins (Cebus olivaceus), and red howlers (Alouatta seniculus). Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) are rarely encountered on the top of the plateau, but are found at lower elevations. Several MA theses and two PhD dissertations are completed or in progress (see Graduate Student page). Our research interests focus on feeding ecology, foraging strategies, ranging patterns and social behavior. We are very eager to extend the primate studies to include plant ecology, studies of birds and other mammals, and we welcome new investigators. Katie MacKinnon (St. Louis University) and Kristin Wright, and Barth Wright (Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences) and myself are the current senior researchers at the site.
Kinzey, W.G. and Norconk, M.A. 1990. Hardness as a basis of fruit choice in two sympatric primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 81:5-15. [PDF 3.66MB]
Norconk, M.A. and Kinzey, W.G. 1994. Challenge of neotropical frugivory: travel patterns of spider monkeys and bearded sakis. American Journal of Primatology 34:171-133. [PDF 4.08MB]
Norconk, M.A., Raghanti, M.A. Martin, S.K., Grafton, B.W., Gregory, L.T., and De Dijn, B.P.E. 2003. Primates of Brownsberg Natuurpark, Suriname, with Particular Attention to the Pitheciins. Neotropical Primates 11(2):94-100. [PDF 174KB]
Norconk, M.A. 2007. Sakis, uakaris, and titi monkeys. In: Primates in Perspective. C.J. Campbell, A. Fuentes, K. MacKinnon, M. Panger, S. Bearder (eds). New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 123-138. [PDF 5.45MB]
Mittermeier, R. A., Rylands, A. B., van Roosmalen, M. G. M., Norconk, M. A., Konstant, W. R. and Famolare, L. 2008. Monkeys of the Guianas: Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana Pocket Identification Guide. Conservation International Tropical Pocket Guide Series #4. Conservation International, Arlington, VA. [link]
Norconk, M.A., Wright, B.W., Conklin-Brittain, N.L., Vinyard, C.J. 2009. Mechanical and nutritional properties of foods as factors in platyrrhine dietary adaptations. In: South American Primates: Testing New Theories in the Study of Primate Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. Garber, P.A., Estrada, A., Bicca-Marques, C., Heymann, E., and Strier, K. (eds). Springer Science. Pp. 279-319.) [PDF 781KB]
Norconk, M.A. 2011. Sakis, uakaris, and titi monkeys. In Primates in Perspective. C. J. Campbell, A. Fuentes, K. C. MacKinnon, S. K. Bearder, R.M. Stumpf (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 122-139. (PDF 1.56MB)
Thompson, Cynthia and Norconk, M.A. 2011. Within-group social bonds in white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) display male-female pair preference. American Journal of Primatology 73:1051-1061. (PDF 202KB)
Norconk, M.A. and Veres, Michael 2011. Physical properties of fruit and seeds ingested by primate seed predators with emphasis on sakis and bearded sakis. The Anatomical Record 294:2092-2111. (PDF 803KB)
Hartwig, W., Rosenberger, A.L. Norconk, M.A., & Young Owl, M. 2011. Relative brain size, gut size,and evolution in New World monkeys. Anatomical Record 294:2207-2221. (PDF 1.14MB)
Thompson, C.T., Whitten, P.L., and Norconk, M.A. 2011. Can male white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) detect female reproductive state? Behaviour 148:1313-1331. (PDF 589KB)