, 50:81 | Cite as

Choice of analytical method can have dramatic effects on primate home range estimates

  • Cyril C. GrueterEmail author
  • Dayong Li
  • Baoping Ren
  • Fuwen Wei
Short Communication


Primate home range sizes can vary tremendously as a consequence of the analytical technique chosen to estimate home range. This is exemplified by a recent dataset on free ranging snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) in Northwest Yunnan, China. Our findings show that the grid cell method cannot substitute for the minimum convex polygon (MCP) method and vice versa. MCP-based estimates are far too large, especially when the form of the home range is irregular due to forays into peripheral areas. Here, we propose an adjusted polygon method, whereby unsuitable and never visited areas are clipped out from the polygon, thus producing more accurate results. Compared to the grid cell method, the adjusted MCP is much more robust when the number of group relocations is limited; MCP turned out to be the method of choice for calculation of monthly and seasonal home ranges. The grid cell method on the other hand yielded the most precise estimates for total or annual home ranges. The style of ranging exhibited by a given primate taxon or population determines which analytical procedures should be applied to estimate home range size, and we would stress the need for thorough evaluation of the pros and cons of home range estimators before conducting field work and analysing data.


Grid cell method Home range estimates Minimum convex polygon Primate 



Jiaoyan Zhuang is acknowledged for helping with GIS analyses, and Lao Feng, Xuesheng Feng and Xuewen Feng for helping with GPS data collection. The following granting agencies supported the research: Janggen-Pöhn-Stiftung, A. H. Schultz Stiftung, Zürcher Tierschutz, Zoological Society of San Diego, Offield Family Foundation, Primate Conservation, Inc., G. & A. Claraz-Schenkung, Goethe-Stiftung, Schweizerische Akademie der Naturwissenschaften SANW, and Primate Action Fund of Conservation International.


  1. Adams L, Davis SD (1967) The internal anatomy of home range. J Mammal 48:529–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burgman MA, Fox JC (2003) Bias in species range estimates from minimum convex polygons: implications for conservation and options for improved planning. Anim Conserv 6:19–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fashing PJ, Mulindahabi F, Gakima J-B, Masozera M, Mununura I, Plumptre A, Nguyen N (2007) Activity and ranging patterns of Angolan black-and-white colobus (Colobus angolensis ruwenzorii) in Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda: possible costs of large group size. Int J Primatol 28:529–550Google Scholar
  4. Harris S, Cresswell WJ, Forde PG, Trewhella WJ, Woollard T, Wray S (1990) Home-range analysis using radio-tracking data—a review of problems and techniques particularly as applied to the study of mammals. Mammal Rev 20:97–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hayne D (1949) Calculation of size of home range. J Mammal 30:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Izumiyama S, Mochizuki T, Shiraishi T (2003) Troop size, home range area and seasonal range use of the Japanese macaque in the Northern Japan Alps. Ecol Res 18:465–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kernohan BJ, Gitzen RA, Millspaugh JJ (2001) Analysis of animal space use and movements. In: Millspaugh JJ, Marzluff JM (eds) Radio tracking and animal populations. Academic, San Diego, pp 125–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kool K, Croft D (1992) Estimators for home range areas of arboreal colobine monkeys. Folia Primatol 58:210–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lehmann J, Boesch C (2003) Social influences on ranging patterns among chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in the Tai National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. Behav Ecol 14:642–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Li Z, Rogers M (2005) Habitat quality and range use of white-headed langurs in Fusui, China. Folia Primatol 76:185–195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Macdonald D, Ball F, Hough N (1980) The evaluation of home range size and configuration using radio tracking data. In: Amlaner C, Macdonald D (eds) A handbook on biotelemetry and radio tracking. Pergamon, Oxford, pp 402–424Google Scholar
  12. Mills MGL, Gorman ML (1987) The scent-marking behaviour of the spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta in the southern Kalahari. J Zool 212:483–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Olson DK (1986) Determining range size for arboreal monkeys: methods, assumptions, and accuracy. In: Taub DM, Kay FA (eds) Current perspective in primate social dynamics. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp 212–227Google Scholar
  14. Ostro LET, Young TP, Silver SC, Koontz FW (1999) A geographic information system (GIS) method for estimating home range size. J Wildl Manage 63:748–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Powell R (2000) Animal home ranges and territories and home range estimators. In: Boitani L, Fuller T (eds) Research techniques in animal ecology. Controversies and consequences. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 65–110Google Scholar
  16. Robbins M, McNeilage A (2003) Home range and frugivory patterns of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Int J Primatol 24:467–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sterling E, Nguyen N, Fashing P (2000) Spatial patterning in nocturnal prosimians: a review of methods and relevance to studies of sociality. Am J Primatol 51:3–19PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. White G, Garrott R (1990) Analysis of wildlife radio tracking data. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  19. Worton BJ (1989) Kernel methods for estimating the utilization distribution in home-range studies. Ecology 70:164–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Worton BJ (1995) A convex hull-based estimator of home range size. Biometrics 51:1206–1215CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyril C. Grueter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dayong Li
    • 2
  • Baoping Ren
    • 3
  • Fuwen Wei
    • 3
  1. 1.Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of Zurich-IrchelZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Qinling Golden Snub-nosed Monkey Research Centre, College of Life ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations