Abstract # 4:

Scheduled for Tuesday, June 17, 2008 09:45 AM-10:00 AM: Session 1 (Meeting Room 2DEF) Symposium


OBSERVATIONAL AND OTHER NON-INVASIVE SAMPLING IN PRIMATE RESEARCH: A BRIDGE FROM FIELD TO CAPTIVE COLONIES AND BACK AGAIN

J. Altmann
Princeton Univ., Dept. of Ecology & Evol. Biol., 401 Guyot Hall, Washington Rd., Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
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     The opportunities and tools to study behavior and other aspects of primate biology are much greater than a few decades ago. Several excellent introductory volumes now provide guides to observational methods in behavioral studies, and these are joined by workbooks, videos and book chapters. Simultaneously, a range of field and laboratory equipment, and of software now facilitate collection and analysis of a diverse range of data. Just as exciting are developments in noninvasive sampling to obtain DNA and physiological measures, finally enabling the conduct of integrated studies of primate biology in ways that avoid disruption of the very systems we wish to understand and reducing a historical and unproductive dichotomy in research approaches. These various advances combine with an unanticipated level of exchange among researchers in settings from natural field sites through a range of ones that are to varying degrees human created and manipulated, promising much greater marginal value from each kind of study if they are designed and conducted in ways that capitalize on opportunities and facilitate comparison. Nonetheless, this progress to date leaves major gaps in tools and knowledge just as a rapidly changing world renders ever more urgent the need to develop and apply insights into the impact of variability and change on the success of humans and nonhuman primates, suggesting important challenges and priorities for the future.