Arboreal animals need canopy connectivity to move freely across the landscape and access critical resources such as food, shelter, and mates. Deforestation impacts canopy connectivity when landscapes are fragmented due to linear infrastructure, such as roads, transmission lines, pipelines, and railways. Under these circumstances, natural canopy bridges become vital to arboreal animals, especially for animals that are reluctant to use the ground. Natural canopy bridges over linear infrastructure are possible when the linear infrastructure is narrow or regrowth of the canopy can occur after construction. When this is not the case, artificial canopy bridges can be implemented to mitigate the consequences of linear infrastructure. The aim of our study was to evaluate the evidence for the use of artificial canopy bridges by spider monkeys (Ateles spp.) to cross linear infrastructure that interrupts canopy connectivity. We selected spider monkeys as a model taxon because they are highly arboreal, use a highly acrobatic form of locomotion, and are threatened with extinction. After an extensive literature search and sending out over 1,500 emails, we did not find any evidence for any spider monkey species using artificial canopy bridges to cross linear infrastructure. We report details of five cases in which the absence of evidence for spider monkeys using artificial canopy bridges to cross linear infrastructure was based on systematic monitoring. We examined the factors that may constrain spider monkeys’ use of artificial canopy bridges and made recommendations for effective artificial canopy bridges for spider monkeys.
Deforestation, canopy connectivity, arboreal animals, crossing, linear infrastructure