Saki Shakeup!

I’ve been baffled by the diversity of Sakis in Peru for years – so Laura Marsh’s new revision of the genus brings some relief. And excitingly, a new species for the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve!

Mark Bowler
Isabel’s saki monkey Pithecia isabela
Pacaya-Samiria national Reserve

The revision takes up an entire bumper issue of Neotropical Primates and it is gratifying to see so many of my Saki photographs used in the descriptions. What were once all lumped as Pithecia monachus are now split into a variety of satisfyingly named species, and we can see which sakis we have in our study sites on the range map… or at least what we might have!

It’s was clearly a huge job for Laura, and the revision will continue to be refined as more information comes in – in fact we can start right away…

Our surveys are at Sucusari, where Laura’s range map predicts the hairy saki monkey

There are some dotted patches on the map where there are no samples and the range has been extrapolated. We can fill out some of that with our recent camera trap videos from Sucusari east of the Napo -in Maijunalands we have the best Saki of all – the ‘hairy saki’ (Pithecia hirsute)!

On the Yavari I’m delighted to see we have the real ‘monk sakis’ (Pithecia monachus). In Pucacuro, It looks like there could even be two species – the Napo Saki in the upper reaches, probably… But the Reserve management are going to be anxious to confirm that their logo, the Equatorial saki (Pithecia aequatorialis), occurs in the Reserve – anyone have photos from there?

In Pacaya-Samiria, the newly described species looks kind of like the Napo Saki and the Equatorial Saki. It make sense that this group of neighbouring sakis would be closely related, but some genetic studies would be interesting over there!

Sakis are now even more fun – thanks Laura!

Laura’s Saki taxonomy:

Marsh L. 2014. A Taxonomic Revision of the Saki Monkeys, Pithecia Desmarest, 1804. Neotropical Primates July 2014

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