13 - Why we know so little: the challenges of fieldwork on the Pitheciids  pp. 145-150

Why we know so little: the challenges of fieldwork on the Pitheciids

By Liliam Patricia Pinto et al.

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Introduction

Possessing a suite of unusual and interesting features, Pitheciids are at the extremes of many of primatology’s ecological and sociological continua (see Norconk 2011). Pitheciids should provide acute tests of many primatological models; however, this is frequently thwarted by the lack of even the most basic quantitative information concerning ecology, behavior and social organization. Such gaps are due not only to the small number of studies, but also to difficulties in obtaining data. This chapter considers why, given that these primates possess such aesthetic and intellectual appeal and high conservation value, they have been so little studied.

The peculiarities of pitheciids, combined with their native habitats’ inherent challenges, have often undermined potentially successful fieldwork. Some researchers who began working with species of Callicebus or Chiropotes, for example, simply gave up because of problems habituating the animals or because the study was so difficult that the quality and quantity of gained data would not be worth the effort. Several researchers who persisted were either unable to obtain the expected volume of data or were incapable of answering many of their initial research questions, sometimes both.

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