CAPUCHIN MONKEYS-Field Work

Are you thinking about quitting your day job for the glamorous life of a primatologist? Well, today, we’ll hear what the work load is like from a field biologist studying Capuchin monkeys in the tropical forests of Venezuela. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is a Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute.

“Life in the field has its very trying moments and some of the periods of greatest frustration are the days when we don’t find monkeys. For the first two years when I was in Venezuela doing research I was all by myself and that meant going out every day and walking the trails in hopes of finding monkeys all alone. I later calculated that of those two years of all the days I was out in the forest looking for monkeys, thirty percent of the time I found them and seventy percent of the time I did not find any monkeys. That’s really discouraging.”

These days, Lynne Miller has a group of volunteers who fan out over the forest and help her look for Capuchin monkeys.

“We’re constantly in radio contact. So we cover the forest three times as fast. That means at least three times the opportunity to find monkeys and once somebody’s found monkeys they call on the radio: ‘Oh quick! Come over here we’ve got monkeys.’ If we find monkeys we’ll probably spend the day with them. It’s very low tech. Pair of binoculars, a notebook and a pen and I’m just writing down what it is they do on a daily basis. What are they eating? What are their social interactions like? Who’s coming down to the ground to feed and who’s not? Are the juveniles interacting mostly with other juveniles, whereas the adults stay to themselves and don’t interact with the juveniles very often? These are the kinds of things we’re looking at. It’s very, very simple research at this stage.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

CAPUCHIN MONKEYS-Field Work

Sometimes the hardest part of doing field research on Capuchin monkeys is finding them.
Air Date:02/09/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

Are you thinking about quitting your day job for the glamorous life of a primatologist? Well, today, we'll hear what the work load is like from a field biologist studying Capuchin monkeys in the tropical forests of Venezuela. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is a Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute.

"Life in the field has its very trying moments and some of the periods of greatest frustration are the days when we don't find monkeys. For the first two years when I was in Venezuela doing research I was all by myself and that meant going out every day and walking the trails in hopes of finding monkeys all alone. I later calculated that of those two years of all the days I was out in the forest looking for monkeys, thirty percent of the time I found them and seventy percent of the time I did not find any monkeys. That's really discouraging."

These days, Lynne Miller has a group of volunteers who fan out over the forest and help her look for Capuchin monkeys.

"We're constantly in radio contact. So we cover the forest three times as fast. That means at least three times the opportunity to find monkeys and once somebody's found monkeys they call on the radio: 'Oh quick! Come over here we've got monkeys.' If we find monkeys we'll probably spend the day with them. It's very low tech. Pair of binoculars, a notebook and a pen and I'm just writing down what it is they do on a daily basis. What are they eating? What are their social interactions like? Who's coming down to the ground to feed and who's not? Are the juveniles interacting mostly with other juveniles, whereas the adults stay to themselves and don't interact with the juveniles very often? These are the kinds of things we're looking at. It's very, very simple research at this stage."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.