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18: Primate Conversation

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    Mary P. Dinsmore, M.S., Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Ilianna E. Anise, B.A., Ph.D. student, University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Rebekah J. Ellis, B.A., M.S., University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Amanda J. Hardie, M.A., Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Jacob B. Kraus, B.A., Ph.D. student, University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Karen B. Strier, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Learning Objectives

    • Understand the current conservation status of the world’s primates and the criteria that researchers and conservationists use to make these assessments.
    • Recognize the many threats that negatively impact primate survival.
    • Understand how these threats uniquely affect primates because of characteristics like slow growth rates, long interbirth intervals, strong social bonds, and cultural behavior.
    • Become aware of the many ways in which primates are significant to ecological processes, our understanding of human evolution, human cultures, and local economies.
    • Learn about ways that people, wherever they may live, can work to protect primates.

    We are field primatologists interested in understanding primates in their natural environments and in contributing to their conservation. Our research focuses on a diversity of primate species that occur in a wide range of habitats throughout the tropics; however, these species and their habitats are subject to many similar threats. As human populations continue to grow (Figure B.1), primates are being pushed out of their natural home ranges and are being forced to occupy increasingly smaller and more isolated patches of land. Humans and primates are sharing more spaces with one another, making it easier for primates to be hunted or captured and for diseases to spread from humans to primates (and vice versa). Even when primates are not directly threatened by human activities, human-induced climate change is altering local ecosystems at an alarming rate. Local political instability exacerbates all of these problems. Our research causes us to think about these issues on a daily basis. Understanding how these threats affect the primates we study is a very important part of what we do. Ultimately, the research of field primatologists like us is important for documenting the status of wild primate populations, as well as for understanding how they respond to these threats and for gaining insights into the kinds of efforts that can help to improve their chances of survival in an uncertain future.

    This appendix begins with a review of the current status of primates and the criteria used in these assessments. We then describe the major threats to primates, explain why primates are important, and consider what can be done to improve their chances. We conclude with a brief consideration of the future for primates.

    Figure B.1 World population growth by region. Global populations are projected to exceed 11 billion people by 2100 (UN Population Division 2017).

    This page titled 18: Primate Conversation is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Beth Shook, Katie Nelson, Kelsie Aguilera, & Lara Braff, Eds. (Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.