Monkey Research: Wait and Listen

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ambience: capuchins, howlers

Researching monkeys in the Amazonian rainforest is an exercise in patience and listening. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Kevina Vulinec is an Earthwatch scientist and an assistant professor at Delaware State University. She’s been studying the role of capuchins, howlers and other monkeys as important seed dispersers in the rainforest. Here’s what a typical morning’s work is like.

“As we’re walking along looking for monkeys, we’re walking slowing, we’re being as silent as possible, walking by rolling our feet so we’re not cracking a twig or something as we walk, and watching for the monkeys. And as you look up, you’ll see the under story layer, so you have a layer of leaves that you’re looking through — you almost really can’t see the canopy, there’s so many leaves in between you and the canopy. What you do is try to sight down the trail as far as possible. You look for movement, you also look for sounds, you may hear vocalizations by the monkeys. You may hear the monkeys foraging. You may hear them breaking branches. Capuchins like to break things up and get at the insects. Sometimes you’ll even hear the monkeys making some kind of vocalization. And you’ll get closer to them and if hopefully you haven’t disturbed them enough that they’ve run off, then you might be able to start seeing movement in the trees. maybe a little shadow here and there. And then suddenly a tail will drop down and then you know what species it is, or you may have at least the genus like in the case of the Howlers that we’re not sure what species it is — that’s going to require maybe some photographs which are very difficult to get of course. Or maybe, if we can collect the dung from that particular species we can run a DNA analysis on the dung and find out what species it is.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation . I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Monkey Research: Wait and Listen

Primate researchers rely on audible clues to locate their subjects in the canopy of the Amazonian rainforest.
Air Date:04/25/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: capuchins, howlers

Researching monkeys in the Amazonian rainforest is an exercise in patience and listening. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Kevina Vulinec is an Earthwatch scientist and an assistant professor at Delaware State University. She's been studying the role of capuchins, howlers and other monkeys as important seed dispersers in the rainforest. Here's what a typical morning's work is like.

"As we’re walking along looking for monkeys, we’re walking slowing, we’re being as silent as possible, walking by rolling our feet so we’re not cracking a twig or something as we walk, and watching for the monkeys. And as you look up, you’ll see the under story layer, so you have a layer of leaves that you’re looking through -- you almost really can’t see the canopy, there’s so many leaves in between you and the canopy. What you do is try to sight down the trail as far as possible. You look for movement, you also look for sounds, you may hear vocalizations by the monkeys. You may hear the monkeys foraging. You may hear them breaking branches. Capuchins like to break things up and get at the insects. Sometimes you’ll even hear the monkeys making some kind of vocalization. And you’ll get closer to them and if hopefully you haven’t disturbed them enough that they’ve run off, then you might be able to start seeing movement in the trees. maybe a little shadow here and there. And then suddenly a tail will drop down and then you know what species it is, or you may have at least the genus like in the case of the Howlers that we’re not sure what species it is -- that’s going to require maybe some photographs which are very difficult to get of course. Or maybe, if we can collect the dung from that particular species we can run a DNA analysis on the dung and find out what species it is."

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation . I'm Jim Metzner.

music