New Course: Primate Health & Communication
It is hard to imagine a better place to receive training in primatology and biological field research techniques than the Los Amigos Biological Station in the Peruvian Amazon. Participants will be able to experience one of the most diverse communities of plants and wildlife anywhere on the planet while living at an active research station boasting 11 native species of primate. Our focus will be primarily on the titi monkeys (Callicebus brunneus) and tamarins (Saguinus imperator and Leontocebus weddelli) present at the field site, as we investigate primate behavior and social relationships, parasite ecology, vocal and olfactory communication, and other related topics.
We emphasize field activities that promote direct inquiry and the hands-on application of classroom lectures. Participants will learn behavioral observation techniques and engage in data collection. This will include training in scan and focal sampling, using ethograms, collecting ecto-parasites, conducting playback experiments, and much more. Additionally, there will be exercises aimed as honing fundamental field biology skills such as orienteering and navigation, recording and analyzing spatial data, maintaining a field notebook, and using appropriate laboratory procedures.
While the days will be spent in the field, during the evenings there will be talks by experienced instructors, as well as investigators actively researching primates at this field site. Participants will also read and discuss selected literature on primate ecology and conservation issues relevant to the the Madre de Dios region of Peru.
The primary objectives of this course are to:
- Promote field ethics and safety
- Provide a foundation for understanding Neotropical primate behavior and sociality
- Encourage critical analysis of the pros and cons of studying blood parasites, hormones, ecto-parasites, viral, and microbial research on wild primates
- Review and participate in research on primate communication, including feeding experiments, vocalization recording, playback experiments, and research on wild primates
- Engage in both independent and team-based data collection
- Encourage competence and analytical thinking in designing and implementing research studies on primate health and communication
- Communicate the relationship between health and ecology
- Understand threats and conservation efforts in the Madre de Dios region
- Investigate primate scent glands and olfactory communication
- Explore primate vocal repertoires
- Understand predator-prey dynamics
- Investigate color perception and signaling
Other activities during this course will include:
- Learning to safely climb emergent trees using mechanical ascenders
- Canoeing in a nearby oxbow lake looking for giant river otters, hoatzins, and other wildlife
- Paddling through a palm swamps in search of dwarf caiman, anaconda, and more
- Climbing a 60-meter observation tower overlooking the rainforest canopy
This course is ideal for biology students seeking specialty training and field experience, those interested in tropical ecology and conservation, and/or individuals from any background who want to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of primates.
Course Dates: June 5th – June 18th, 2017
Registration: Course size is limited, spots are filled on a rolling basis until April 16th, 2017
Course Fee: $2100 (includes meals, lodging, and transportation from Puerto Maldonado to the field site and back)