Ethnoprimatology of Macaca tonkeana
Riley, Erin Phelps
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This dissertation investigated the ecological and cultural interconnections between Tonkean macaques (Macaca tonkeana) and human residents of the Lindu valley in Lore Lindu National Park. The research had two major foci. The first examined how Tonkean macaques respond, in terms of their diet, activity patterns, and ranging patterns, to anthropogenic habitat alteration. The second assessed how human ecology affects the conservation of Tonkean macaques by examining (1) the conservation implications of overlapping resource use between Tonkean macaques and villagers in Lindu, and (2) how villagers’ conceptualizations of forests, monkeys and protected areas impact conservation in the park. Two macaque groups, occupying habitats with different levels of anthropogenic alteration, were studied. Tree abundance, density of key food species, and fruit production were found to be greater in the minimally-altered habitat, substantiating the characterization of this habitat as higher quality. Tonkean macaques appear to respond to anthropogenic habitat alteration, and decreased habitat quality, by being flexible in their diet by incorporating more alternative food items and relying on resources that dominate human-altered areas, and by adjusting their activity budgets and use of space to increase their foraging effort. There was considerable overlapping use of forest resources between macaques and villagers, which may negatively impact the survival of macaques in human-modified environments. Macaque use of anthropogenic foods (e.g., cacao fruits, Theobroma cacao) was found to be nominal compared to other crop raiding animals, despite villagers’ perceptions of the macaques as the most destructive animals. Considerable diversity was found within the local community of Tomado on knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of the forest and its conservation, that varied by ethnic and cultural-ecological identity. The indigenous Lindu possess folklore that envisions monkeys and humans as interrelated biologically, ecologically, and culturally. This folklore results in tolerance of the macaques, and therefore may help to ensure their persistence. Overall, the research demonstrates the value of an integrated approach, such as ethnoprimatology, in understanding the behavioral flexibility of nonhuman primates that live in human-modified environments, and the key factors that affect conservation in areas where human and nonhuman primate needs are increasingly interwoven.