Monkey Forest Tales: Challenges of doing ecological and behavioral studies with monkeys in the field?

A couple of weeks ago we talk about what are the challenges of counting monkeys, in today’s post we are going to talk about a similar subject, what are the challenges of doing ecological and behavioral studies.

Doing ecological and behavioral studies with monkeys usually implies that you have to follow one or more groups of monkeys to answer your question and that is not always easy, especially in wild habitats. This kind of studies usually have an initial part of habituation of the monkey group you are going to follow and depending on the species the time to reach habituation can be different. Other factors influencing the habituation process are the context in which the monkeys live.

For example, areas were hunting is high can make monkeys more scared and difficult to habituate, an probably not always wise to habituate them if that will means the animals will lost their fear to a potential predator, us.

Also, if you are habituating a group of monkeys in fragmented areas, monkeys are usually more nervous because of domestic dogs, cars and humans and those factors can make the habituation process longer than expected.

Habituation also implies spending long days with the monkeys to earn their trust, this also means long walks looking for that group you want to study and it also implies all the discomfort that comes with working in a tropical forest.

After habituation, you actually need to follow the monkeys and depending on the question, you will need to follow the group for several days from sunrise to sunset for several days. Just remember to standardized the time you spend with the group every month so you will be able make comparisons between months. And enjoy the time monkeys share with you.

And the last part of the process is actually analyze the data you collect when following those monkeys and answering the question you propose at the beginning of your study. And Finally and something that most of us in science use to pursue publish the results of your study.

Something I will like to remember from all those challenges is to be persistent despite the hard work and difficult conditions and remember to enjoy the time with the monkeys. Since is fun despite the challenges and in some ways it is also a privilege that not many people have as we can spend time looking at some of the most amazing and intelligent animals on earth.

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