Abstract # 7:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2008 10:30 AM-10:40 AM: Session 1 (Meeting Room 2DEF) Symposium

Observational research at the lab/zoo/field boundary

N. Caine1,2, C. Kitzmann3 and S. Hankerson4
1California State University San Marcos, Department of Psychology, San Marcos, CA 92096, USA, 2Zoological Society of San Diego, 3Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, 4Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
     Collaborations between universities and zoological parks are not new, but rarely do such institutions jointly create facilities that are specifically designed for research. The ZSSD and CSUSM have such a facility for callitrichid primates (the “CRF”) that is off-exhibit and out-of-doors, allowing us to design observational research that has some of the benefits of lab, zoo, and field settings. However, the constraints of all three types of research settings also apply to the CRF, making the selection of appropriate research questions, research design, and statistical analysis particularly challenging. For example, because of small samples and limited ability to manipulate group compositions, many topics in the area of social behavior are inappropriate for investigations at the CRF. Concern about habituation to experimental stimuli is often pitted against the need to provide adequate numbers of trials and avoid pseudoreplication (Kroodsma et al., 2001). Lack of independence of data points collected from animals living in social groups constrains the choice of statistical tools (Kramer et al., 1992) and can cause concern about the generalizability of the results. In this presentation I will discuss some of the ways in which my students and I have tried to balance the benefits and limitations of observational research carried out at a facility such as the CRF, highlighting a current project that is generating new information about sleeping site selection in marmosets.