The life of a naturalist.

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This essay summarizes some of my findings while studying primates in the field from 1962 to 2018. Although I have studied primates throughout the tropics, I focused on Africa, primarily the Kibale Forest of Uganda. My research began in the early days of primate field studies when very little was known about the behavior and ecology of most species. Consequently, I was able to study nearly anything that could be observed under natural conditions. It was not necessary to specialize, and I opted to be a generalist. In much of my work I have attempted to understand the relationships between habitat quality, social organization, and population dynamics, emphasizing the great intraspecific variability that exists over time and between areas. Vocalizations have also long been of interest to me, starting with a description of predator-specific alarm calls and later showing how vocalizations among African monkeys appear to be evolutionarily stable. As my field experience progressed, I became increasingly involved with the conservation of tropical rain forests. In the last part of this essay I offer my thoughts on current trends in field primatology and some advice to the next generation of field biologists, stressing the importance of being a naturalist.





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Struhsaker, Thomas T (2022). The life of a naturalist. Primates; journal of primatology, 63(3). pp. 195–215. 10.1007/s10329-022-00987-1 Retrieved from

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Thomas T Struhsaker

Adjunct Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

Formally retired. Advising on conservation action plan for Africa's 18 taxa of red colobus monkeys. Compiling and helping to archive a large collection of photographs of red colobus monkeys. Continuing to publish notes.

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