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Black spider monkey
Ateles paniscus


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: A. paniscus: VU (What is Red List?)
Key: VU = Vulnerable
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

In the wild, black spider monkeys are widespread and abundant and are not currently threatened with extinction. However, despite their apparent abundance in the wild, there are several factors that could result in a negative change in status in the future including habitat destruction, over-hunting, and decreased rate of population growth.


Threat: Human Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

While they are not currently pressured by habitat loss, black spider monkeys are habitat specialists that require undisturbed, primary forest. They are not successful at living in areas that have been previously logged or disturbed and actively avoid edge habitats (Mittermeier & van Roosmalen 1981). Furthermore, they need large tracts of undisturbed forests because of their large body size and frugivorous diet (Lehman 2004b). It is clear that lack of appropriate habitat can seriously threaten black spider monkeys, and efforts protecting large areas of forest from human disturbance and degradation should continue (Rylands & Keuroghlian 1988).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Because of their large body size, all species of spider monkeys are prized by hunters (Rylands & Keuroghlian 1988). While the rate of hunting is currently not threatening black spider monkeys in their range, the combination of habitat loss and growing human population seeking bushmeat could create a crisis for black spider monkeys as has been seen among other species such as A. hybridus, A. belzebuth, and A. marginatus ( In areas where hunting occurs, the population density of black spider monkeys is lower compared to areas where hunting does not occur (de Thoisy et al. 2005). There is a direct link between hunting and population decrease in black spider monkeys and because of a number of intrinsic factors, they cannot sustain high levels of hunting (Rylands & Keuroghlian 1988). Full protection under the law is afforded to black spider monkeys in French Guiana and hunting restrictions have prevented population declines (de Thoisy et al. 2005).

Threat: Intrinsic Factors

Several factors contribute to slow reproductive rates and slow population growth of black spider monkeys. Black spider monkeys have long periods of gestation, reach reproductive maturity at an older age, a longer period of infant dependence, and increased interbirth intervals compared to other primates of similar size. This results in a slow intrinsic rate of population growth. While they are currently not threatened, these factors indicate that if a population were to be reduced significantly, it would take a long time for it to recover and the possibility exists that if reduced to small enough numbers, the population could not rebound (McFarland Symington 1988; Rylands & Keuroghlian 1988).





Content last modified: April 10, 2007

Written by Kristina Cawthon Lang. Reviewed by Dionisios Youlatos.

Cite this page as:
Cawthon Lang KA. 2007 April 10. Primate Factsheets: Black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 November 13.