Abstract # 79:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 08:00 AM-09:00 AM: (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Featured Speaker


MOONLIT WALKS: A SERENDIPITOUS JOURNEY FROM BABOONS AND CHIMPANZEES TO NOCTURNAL PRIMATES

L. T. Nash
School Human Evol. & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402, USA
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Chance events led me away from an initial focus on the study of mother-infant interactions in both wild baboons (Papio anubis) and captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to an examination of the social and ecological diversity in galagos in East Africa along with the study of captive galago social behavior. Across those four decades, important discoveries about nocturnal primates have included (1) the appreciation of unexpected taxonomic diversity among them, (2) the utility of new technologies to make the study of their social behavior possible, (3) the recognition that nocturnal does not mean ‘nonsocial’ and that important social diversity exists among nocturnal primate species, and (4) the understanding that nocturnal primates face digestive challenges from diets of leaves or gum which would not be predicted in a primate of their small size. The socioecological diversity among these species does not fit neatly within current socioecological models or is often ignored by these models. In both captive and field work on galagos and field work on Lepilemur, as well as captive work on chimpanzees, it was necessary to confront the ethical issues of having animals in captivity, of trapping them and radio-tracking them. Along the way, there was an education in the value of having a research plan in mind, but also having to react to beneficial or difficult serendipitous events that shape a career.