Two Different Species of Pygmy Marmoset in the Western Amazon

Adult Cebuella niveiventris Photo: R. Burton
Adult Cebuella pygmaea  Photo: P. Yépez

A team of primatologists from USFQ, Northern Illinois University, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, reported the existence of two species of pygmy marmosets in the Ecuadorian Amazon. By comparing mitochondrial DNA from feces of wild pygmy marmosets from different sites in Ecuador, including the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, and of tissue samples from museum specimens, the researchers identified two cryptic species, very similar in pelage but differing in their DNA. The Napo river separates the two species in Ecuador. In the forests north of this river inhabits Cebuella pygmaea, whereas in forests south of the Napo river Cebuella niveiventris occurs. The two species are threatened due to their high specialization in habitat and diet. Pygmy marmosets only live in gallery forests along rivers and lake and feed on exudates of few plant species. Deforestation, live capture for the illegal pet market and epidemics are their main threats.