Abstract # 181:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2007 10:15 AM-10:30 AM: Session 16 (North Main Hall E) Symposium


The Role of Behavior Analysis in the Behavioral Management of Nonhuman Primates

A. L. Martin1,2, M. A. Bloomsmith1,2, A. W. Clay1,2,3, M. E. Kelley4,5, M. J. Marr1 and T. L. Maple1
1Georgia Institute of Technology, Allison L. Martin, Center for Conservation and Behavior, 654 Cherry St., Atlanta, GA 30332-0170, USA, 2Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 3Zoo Atlanta, 4Marcus Institute, 5Emory University School of Medicine
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     Other than the incorporation of operant principles into general training, the field of behavioral management in captive animals has drawn little, and thus benefited little, from the diverse theoretical perspectives and techniques utilized in other areas of behavioral science. This presentation describes several ways in which behavior analysis, which has had great success in combining empirical methodologies and operant principles to treat complex behavior problems in humans, might be applied to the management of nonhuman primates. Techniques and treatment components commonly incorporated in human literature such as reinforcer preference assessments, functional assessment, and desensitization are only beginning to be studied in non-human primates. However, our early results are promising. These include the finding that orangutans (Pongo abelii, Pongo pygmaeus, Pongo pygmaeus abelii, N=9) possess individual preferences for foods treats and that these preferences change across time for some individuals [Kendall’s tau, a=0.05]. In addition, we used a functional analysis to identify the reinforcing consequences maintaining a chimpanzee’s (Pan troglodytes, n=1) feces throwing and spitting behavior. Finally, based on the results of a multivariate analysis of variance [a=0.05], specific desensitization and a more generalized training program were significantly more successful than a control condition in reducing some fear-related behaviors in a subset of the 18 singly-housed rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) subjects. These studies provide evidence that empirical assessments and treatments based on the behavior analytic model could be useful in the management of nonhuman primates.