Abstract # 1825 Event # 66:

Scheduled for Tuesday, June 27, 2006 08:30 AM-09:30 PM: (Queen Elizabeth Theater) Plenary


Plenary Talk: History and current scope of field studies on Japanese macaques on Yakushima Island, Japan

J. Yamagiwa
Faculty of Science, Lab. of Human Evolution Studies, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
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     In the early stage of Japanese primatology in the 1950’s, wild Japanese macaques were rarely seen near human settlements or farmlands. In 1952, Junichiro Itani and Shunzo Kawamura made a preliminary survey and found that Japanese macaques lived in small stable groups that partly overlapped their ranges on Yakushima Island, which is covered by the warm temperate forests. However, since they succeeded in habituating macaques with artificial feeding at Koshima and Mt. Takasakiyama in the same year, they focused their attention on macaques living in single groups under isolated conditions. Provisioning for research and tourism had been made at many places in Japan in the 1960’s, and this contributed to various findings on the social organization of Japanese macaques. Field studies on Yakushima were resumed in the 1970’s in order to investigate the optimal methods and to elucidate the socio-ecological factors influencing the social life of Japanese macaques in their natural habitat. We found many differences in the social organization of Japanese macaques between Yakushima and other habitats, especially from the provisioned groups. The macaques of Yakushima are characterized by high mobility of males between groups, a flexible mode of male immigration, frequent group fission, and strong inter-group antagonism. Field studies have been extended recently to higher altitudes, and the history of their adaptive radiation has been examined. Despite of our efforts to avoid provisioning, the Yakushima macaques started to invade crops in the 1970’s and have been captured or killed as pests, a trend that has been observed throughout Japan. Rapid deforestation, road construction, and the mechanization of agriculture are the main causes of changes in their ranging and food choice. So far, we have attempted to tackle these problems by seeking better solutions for the coexistence of people and the macaques; this work has involved, organizing symposia and NGOs with local governments and citizens. The core forest area of Yakushima, including our study sites, was conferred status as a World Heritage Site in 1993. Since then, we have made efforts to implement wise management of the Heritage site through conservation and education. I will describe these efforts in greater detail and discuss the scope of our field studies on Yakushima.