Abstract # 2518 Event # 7:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 10:00 AM-10:10 AM: Session 1 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Symposium


K. B. Strier
University of Wisconsin, Department of Anthropology, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Long-term field studies of wild primates can have far-reaching impacts that transcend their contributions to science. These impacts can be beneficial to the study animals, the study areas, and local human communities. Examples from the Northern Muriqui Project of Caratinga, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, include contributions to conservation efforts on behalf of this critically endangered species, and capacity building that has involved the training of more than 40 Brazilian students. Our ongoing research presence has also provided employment opportunities for local people and contributed to the establishment of a locally-administered infrastructure that is facilitating the development of activities such as eco-tourism and conservation education programs. Yet, long-term field studies (including our own) can also have unintended consequences, however non-invasive the research methods may be. For example, few of us monitor the effects of our trail systems on surrounding vegetation, or the size and implications of the environmental footprints that either long-term researchers or short-term visitors create. Similarly, although precautions against potential health risks from routine exposure to human observers are now a standard in most field studies, little is known about the ways in which a long-term research presence can affect the primates’ experiences or alter their perceptions of their social and ecological environments. Risk analyses that weigh both positive and negative impacts can provide useful perspectives for both ongoing and new studies alike.