Human Evolution

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 117–124

The roles of ecological and behavioral observation in species recognition among primates


  • I. Tattersall
    • Department of AnthropologyAmerican Museum of Natural History

DOI: 10.1007/BF02435440

Cite this article as:
Tattersall, I. Hum. Evol. (1989) 4: 117. doi:10.1007/BF02435440


Closely related living mammal species present numerous difficulties of recognition and delineation, not least because populations as well as individual organisms fulfill both genetic and economic functions. However, since species are often distributed geographically across multiple ecosystems or environments, it is evident that species as wholes, except where coterminous with the local populations of which they are composed, cannot be said to play unitary ecological roles. Aspects of the economic activity of organisms thus may not be admitted as elements in species recognition. Those who study the behavior of mammals in their natural habitats must therefore focus upon behaviors which preserve the genetic integrity of species if they wish to contribute to the systematic question of species identification. «Isolation» concepts of species are not served by data of this kind, since they emphasize interspecies discontinuities; the «recognition» concept of species, however, specifically focuses upon behaviors of this kind as they contribute to the «Specific-Mate Recognition System». Among primates such behaviors are likely to involve signalling of various kinds; where this is visual it is reasonable to expect to find morphological or chromatic correlates; where such cues are auditory or, to a lesser extent, olfactory, it is less probable that such correlates will be found to exist.

Key words

Speciesnichebehaviorrecognition concept

Copyright information

© Editrice II Sedicesimo 1989