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The Values and Challenges of Long-Term Field Studies

  • Peter M. KappelerEmail author
  • Carel P. van Schaik
  • David P. Watts
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, we review some of the benefits and challenges of long-term primate field studies. We define long-term studies as those that cover a significant part of the study species’ life cycle; in reality, many studies have already extended over multiple generations. We first provide a brief overview of the historical beginnings of modern primate field studies, most of which lay in the 1950s and early 1960s. Next, we identify a number of biological constraints and scientific questions that necessitate and justify a long-term approach to studying wild primate populations. Most research questions in this context are related to fitness determinants and outcomes and can be broadly classified as addressing either aspects of behavior, life history and demography, or the possible interactions among them. Positive side effects of long-term field projects on the conservation of the study site or the study species have recently become additional important reasons for the continuation of these projects. Studying individually known primates over years and decades also poses some unique challenges, however, especially with respect to data management and funding. We close this chapter by summarizing some of the unique insights about primate social systems and life history only made possible by the long-term nature of the studies, focusing on the chapters making up the remainder of this volume.

Keywords

Japanese Macaque Lifetime Reproductive Success Mountain Gorilla Slow Life History Wild Primate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Kappeler
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carel P. van Schaik
    • 3
  • David P. Watts
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology and CRC Evolution of Social BehaviorUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral Ecology & SociobiologyGerman Primate CenterGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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