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Long-term Primate Field Studies: Behavioral, Parasitological and Spatial Monitoring Home

Educational Organization:
Washington University in Saint Louis

Date Posted:

Program Description:

Long-term primate monitoring sites are uncommon: only a small fraction of primate species have been studied intensively over time. Even within these well-studied species, studies often focus on a single site, which could then bias our view of the ecology and life-history of the primate species in question. For such long-lived mammals, the only way to really see beyond catastrophic fluctuations in population stability or weather events is to study multiple generations of animals over a greater period of time.

In this class, we will focus on an Amazonian primate community (11 species) but also take special note of a long-term monitoring program on saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarins. We will examine first-hand the unique struggles and advantages to long-term monitoring programs by focusing on several research projects being conducted simultaneously on this population: a) wildlife handling, which allows us to identify each individual primate and track habituated groups; b) sensory ecology, utilising feeding experiments with identified wild tamarins; c) community disease ecology, in which we compare screenings of the tamarin population with the remaining primate species; and d) behavioral ecology, in which we track 14 habituated groups to study scent-marking, behavior, and vocal communication.

This course will be held at the Los Amigos Biological Station, also known by its Spanish acronym EBLA (Estación Biológico Río Los Amigos), which is run by the Amazon Conservation Association. Situated between the Madre de Dios and Los Amigos Rivers on terra firme forest rising above the floodplain, this field station was established in 2000 and boasts incredible biodiversity that includes 11 primate species and 595 species of birds.

While focusing on how primates are monitored long-term, you will learn the basic principles and methods of primatological research and about the ongoing challenges to the conservation of primate biodiversity in the Amazon basin.

These will include:

*The setup, maintenance and funding of a long-term primate monitoring project

*The study non-charismatic primates: how to make people care

*Field ethics, safety precautions, rules, and useful field skills

*Tracking multiple primate species: how to adapt to each primate?s behavior

*Forest navigation on and off-trail

*Project management: how to monitor hundreds of animals without getting in a muddle

*Conservation biology of the Amazon

*Neotropical primate diversity

*Neotropical primate disease ecology and screening

*Wildlife handling: when it is necessary and how to be effective.

*Fail-proof tree climbing.

*Proper maintenance of a field notebook.

*Upkeep of detailed and accurate wildlife sightings lists.

Entrance Qualifications:
There are a few simple requirements to determine eligibility for this course:

*You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the course.

*You must have medical insurance, and provide proof of such insurance to us to complete your reservation.

*We have no citizenship requirements. Anyone is welcome to apply. You must obtain visas independently if necessary.

*You do not need any training in biology. Our course is structured to accommodate people from a variety of backgrounds.

*Courses have a maximum capacity of 12 participants. If you are concerned that you will lose your spot, please contact us to confirm how many spots we have left.

Tuition / Fees:
The fee for this course is $2500 and is due in full 6 weeks after online registration or by April 15, whichever comes sooner. The fee includes the following:

*Food and lodging for the entire course.

*Round-trip travel to EBLA from Puerto Maldonado.

*Experienced instructors and field equipment.

This course fee does NOT include:

*Air travel to and from Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

*Travel or health insurance (proof of health insurance is required for course attendance).

*Rubber boots, binoculars, flashlight and insect repellent (all of which are required to take this course).

Support (scholarships, travel):
There are two ways to obtain financial assistance for attending this field course. You may participate in both of these programs simultaneously as follows:

Scholarships: This year, we are offering two scholarships to attend this course for students from Peru. For the application details please visit our scholarships page.

Fundraising: FPI can now provide a peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform for all field course students. You will be able to make your own fundraising page to share with your contacts and social networks. At the end of the fundraising period, FPI will issue a discount code to you for 100% of the funds that you have raised. You would then enter this code as you make your final course payment. If you raise enough to cover all (or part) of your initial reservation fee, you would be refunded that portion as well. Please note that funds raised in excess of your program fees will be rolled into our scholarship fund. Also, if you withdraw from the course at any time, your donors cannot get a refund. In this case, all of those funds would also roll over into our scholarship fund for other students. To set up this option, please register for a course, first, and then contact us at to set up your fundraising page.

Start + End Dates:
June 30 to July 13, 2019

Application Deadline:
April 15, 2019

Contact Information:
Mrinalini Watsa


E-Mail Address:

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