Science Diary: Monkeys – Experiment

Science Diary: Monkeys – Experiment

Music; Ambience: Howler monkey vocalizations

JM: We’re listening to howlers one of the four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica. The populations of all of Costa Rica’s monkeys are declining. But the howlers have been doing pretty well, and one scientist is trying to find the secret of their success. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Primatologist Tracie McKinney studies howler monkeys with a group of Earthwatch volunteers.

TM: “We have a platform made out of palm stems and leaves, so it’s biodegradable if we get it stuck in a tree, and it doesn’t really look too scary and weird to the monkeys. We place ‘novel’ foods on there. All of our novel foods are fruits or leafy vegetables. Today we’re using cabbage. And then we hoist the platform up into a tree that is in the pathway of the monkeys. A little bit of dirt won’t be a problem. We don’t want to touch it with our hands. What I wanted to know is if we provide novel foods, then are they going to be attracted to the new foods, or are they going to be afraid of new foods and steer clear of them? They’re eating mangoes over here. They might not be very interested in our cabbage with all these nice mangoes to eat. And so what I find very interesting is that howler monkeys are dietarily quite flexible. They’ll eat as much fruit as they can get a hold of and then they’ll eat as much leaves as they have to. The reason this is important is as habitats are disturbed and as animals are pushed into human territories and they have to raid crops or live in farms, or they have very fragmented forests, an animal who can take on new foods that are completely unknown to them and explore those foods and find out what’s palatable and nutritious, will survive so much better.”

JM: We’ll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Science Diary: Monkeys - Experiment

For Howler monkeys, eating their veggies is more than just a health issue.
Air Date:03/13/2014
Scientist:
Transcript:

Science Diary: Monkeys - Experiment

Music; Ambience: Howler monkey vocalizations

JM: We're listening to howlers one of the four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica. The populations of all of Costa Rica's monkeys are declining. But the howlers have been doing pretty well, and one scientist is trying to find the secret of their success. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Primatologist Tracie McKinney studies howler monkeys with a group of Earthwatch volunteers.

TM: "We have a platform made out of palm stems and leaves, so it's biodegradable if we get it stuck in a tree, and it doesn't really look too scary and weird to the monkeys. We place 'novel' foods on there. All of our novel foods are fruits or leafy vegetables. Today we're using cabbage. And then we hoist the platform up into a tree that is in the pathway of the monkeys. A little bit of dirt won't be a problem. We don't want to touch it with our hands. What I wanted to know is if we provide novel foods, then are they going to be attracted to the new foods, or are they going to be afraid of new foods and steer clear of them? They're eating mangoes over here. They might not be very interested in our cabbage with all these nice mangoes to eat. And so what I find very interesting is that howler monkeys are dietarily quite flexible. They'll eat as much fruit as they can get a hold of and then they'll eat as much leaves as they have to. The reason this is important is as habitats are disturbed and as animals are pushed into human territories and they have to raid crops or live in farms, or they have very fragmented forests, an animal who can take on new foods that are completely unknown to them and explore those foods and find out what's palatable and nutritious, will survive so much better."

JM: We'll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.