Investigating Niche Construction in Dynamic Human-Animal Landscapes: Bridging Ecological and Evolutionary Timescales
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Human influence on the environment is evident at all landscape and ecological scales, from local to global, shaping both abiotic and biotic processes. Niche construction theory provides a means by which to investigate the consequences of these anthropogenic effects, but primatological research has been slow to integrate ecological and evolutionary timelines. We review methods that can be used to study how human niche construction influences nonhuman primates including phenological assessment, nonhuman primate behavioral observations, and ethnographic interview techniques. We argue that this approach provides a starting place to examine niche construction theory but that scholars of primate behavioral ecology must expand our methodologies to bridge the disconnect between ecological and evolutionary research time frames. We suggest areas of research and methods that have been underused but offer opportunities for integrative, innovative research. We conclude that an integrated, synthetic methodological approach is a major goal and that it will likely require a cross-disciplinary, collaborative effort.
KeywordsAnthropocene Ecology Ethnoprimatology Human–wildlife conflict and coexistence Niche construction theory
We kindly thank Erin P. Riley and Sindhu Radhakrishna for the invitation to participate in this special issue. We are grateful to Joanna Setchell, the Editorial Committee of the International Journal of Primatology, and the reviewers for their insightful comments. Finally, we would like to thank the University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Colorado–Boulder for institutional support.
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