Have you ever thought about observing primates in the wild?

In this post, learn about the initial steps to observe primates, and the most used techniques to study their behavior

You might be asking yourself, “Why should I observe primates in the wild?” What I can tell you is that a lot of our behavior has to do with their behavior [1, 2].

But in addition, understanding how primates behave contributes to the understanding of the strategies they use to survive , and this can be fundamental for the preservation of the species [3].

Primate using computer. Source

What can the study of behavior tell us?

Ethology , the area of ​​knowledge that studies the behavior of animals, can provide us with information about how primates use their time .

It is possible to observe how they feed , how they look for partners and reproduce , how they interact with the members of their group and with other animal species, in addition to several other aspects [3].

Mother and cub. Source

But how is it possible to observe all these behaviors? For this, some techniques are used.

What are the main techniques for observing primates?

Before observing the behavior of primates it is important to make some preliminary observations , such as [3]:

1) Recognize the area of ​​study

2) Locate one or more groups of primates

3) Learn to identify sex-age classes and individuals

4) Familiarize yourself with the behavior of the species

5) Define the behavioral categories that will be observed

Remember to always take a notebook, binoculars, GPS and a camera to the field to record everything that is important.

The next step is to define the observation technique , that is, which sampling will be used in the study. This will define which individuals in the group should be observed and when [3,4].

ad libitum sampling

In this technique, the observer freely records the behaviors of interest. Basically, an overview of what is being seen is noted [3].

Generally, this sampling is used in quantitative analyzes of the behavior in the initial phases , or in conjunction with another type of sampling [4].

Focal animal sampling

The focus of observation in this sample is normally a single individual at a time [3].

During a period of time defined by the observer, all behaviors performed by that individual are recorded [4], as if it were a recording of that moment.

This technique is widely used for studies of animals in captivity , where it is possible to follow a single individual more closely.

Southern Muriqui in captivity. Source: Own File

Scan sampling or scan sampling

In this technique, a social group is observed during predetermined intervals and a single behavior is observed for each individual seen [3], so it is very important to recognize all the components of the group.

The notes are made as if it were a photograph , captured at that moment, where it is possible to see the behavior that each individual is performing.

Primate social group. Source

Now that you know the main techniques for studying the behavior of animals, how about using this knowledge to understand them more deeply ? Until later!

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