Current Science Projects

Competing for life

The objective of this project is to continue to monitor the demographic fates (birth, death emigration) of toque macaques that are know individually since their birth. In this way we can relate their behavioral and ecological histories to their fates.   This allows us to measure the influence of different behaviors and ecologies on individual fitness, which, in turn, contributes to our understanding of behavioral adaptation and evolution.

Similar studies are being done on the gray langur (Semnopithecus priam) on basis of about 400 individuals, and of the purple-faced langur (Trachypithecus vetulus) on basis of 200 animals.

Three primates share one forest

The three species of day-active primates at our study site, the toque macaque, gray langur and purple-faced langur, share the same forest habitat.  The daily ranges of these three species overlap completely and they share the same feeding trees and other forests resources.  The aim of the investigation is to determine how these three species interact and share their forest habitat in a more or less peaceful coexistence.

Nocturnal habits of the Slender Loris

The area of forests around our research station has the highest density of loris in Sri Lanka.  We have identified some individuals are we are documenting behavioral profiles and ecological interactions. We are accumulating life-history information about this species which is not easy to study because of its nocturnal habits.

Inbreeding avoidance

Extensive genetic studies at our site, involving 1,500 genotyped macaques, have shown that less than 1% of macaques are inbred.  Most inbreeding is prevented because males disperse from their natal group (maternal relatives) at adolescence and breed with unrelated females far from home. Despite dispersal, the social opportunities for inbreeding are extensive.  We are analyzing our data in order to decipher by what additional means (other than natal dispersal) inbreeding is avoided.

Human-monkey conflict resolution

With increasing incursions by humans and their livestock into natural habitats, monkeys (especially macaques) have taken to raiding sources of food. We try to ameliorate this problem through educational programs. With a survey of human attitudes towards monkeys we are hoping to gain a greater understanding of the how conflicts might be avoided.



PCR gel of Cryptosporidium

Humans and their livestock have introduced disease into primate populations. This includes cryptosporidium (see image of PCR gel) and toxoplasmosis and possibly entamoeba.  On the other hand, we have shown Dengue to be prevalent in macaques in an area where this disease was thought to be absent in humans. Dengue in humans, however, has become more prevalent in recent years.  Further investigations are needed to examine the role of primates as potential reservoirs for the human Dengue virus.