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Genetical diversity in red-handed howlers (Alouatta belzebul) populations in the inundation area of Belo Monte hydroeletric dam complex

Grant number: 21/05923-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): March 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Principal Investigator:Patrícia Domingues de Freitas
Grantee:Jacqueline Vieira Gardellin
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


The red-handed howler (Alouatta belzebul) is an endemic primate in Brazil, and has been received different nominations according to its area of occurrence, which can be restricted to the north of Piauí, Maranhão and Ceará states (A. b. ululata or A. ululata); occur on the right of the Tapajós river (A. b. discolor or A. discolor); or on the right of the Xingu river with disjunct distribution to those populations occurring in the Northeastern Atlantic Forest (A. b. belzebul or A. belzebul). According to the IUCN Red List, A. belzebul is classified as vulnerable, given the significant reduction in its populations over the past 30 years. Among the main threats to the species are hunting and illegal trade, and mainly anthropic actions that promote the habitat fragmentation and/or loss, such as deforestation for urban, train rail and road networks expansion, and for agricultural and extractive activities, including the management and use of water for the construction of dams. The construction of hydroelectric plants is the activity that represents the greatest threat to the species indeed. In this way, the recent implantation of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant (UHBM), where flooding zone covers the municipalities of Vitória do Xingu and Altamira, in the southwest of the state of Pará, where A. belzebul occurs, represents a potential threat to the species, in the short and long term. As possible implications of the probable impacts for the species are the isolation of populations and the consequent interruption of their gene flow, and the intensification of drift effects, favoring population structure, and the increase of inbreeding and fixation of deleterious alleles, which can culminate in the reduction of genetic diversity, and then in the ability of populations to adapt and persist in the long term. Thus, the present project has as main objective to characterize the genetic diversity and structure of A. belzebul from the Vitória do Xingu (PA) for populations rescued and translocated during the construction of the UHBM, aiming to generate reference genetic data that allow the monitoring of the genetic variability of this population over time and the estimating of genetic parameters relevant to population viability, in addition to further inferences about possible effects of the dam on the genetic structure of the population in the future.(AU)

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