All species are arboreal, although Alouatta, Ateles, Brachyteles, and Lagothrix have been observed to descend to the ground to eat, drink, play, and travel for brief periods. With the exception of Oreonax, they are found in a wide variety of habitats. Alouatta and Brachyteles in particular are still found in disturbed and secondary patches of forest, where their ability to consume large quantities of leaves may contribute to their persistence. Lagothrix and Ateles are more

Humboldt's woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha) climbs in the trees in the Amazon. (Photo by John Giustina. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
The black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus) rests for the majority of the day. (Photo by Michael P. Fogden. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

restricted to primary tropical rainforest, although some species of Ateles are also found in semi-deciduous and degraded forest patches.

Atelids appear to prefer the upper canopy, but they also use their tails to exploit foods at lower levels in the forest. They tend to rest on secure branches, but are adept at feeding from terminal branches and lianas.

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