The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Why study primate communities? The importance for anthropology and ecology, current knowledge, and future directions


1Department of Anatomy, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Midwestern University, 2School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, 3Graduate Group in Ecology and Department of Anthropology, University of California-Davis

Saturday 1:00-1:15, Ballroom A Add to calendar

It has been more than 10 years since the landmark volume, Primate Communities, was published, but research on the subject since then has been limited. This is surprising considering the wealth of important advances in GIS, ecological informatics, macroecology, and phylogenetics. Using data from ISI web of science searches, we demonstrate that these developments have spurred community ecology research in non-primate groups and have focused attention on the importance of variation in spatial, temporal and phylogenetic scales for structuring communities, but that analogous research on primate communities has lagged. We emphasize the important implications of primate community ecology research for many areas of interest to biological anthropologists and ecologists, including the distribution of extinct hominin species, mammal paleocommunities, primate biogeography, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology. We discuss the recently renewed interest in understanding primate communities, much of which utilizes new datasets and analytical techniques to investigate the importance of local ecology, historical patterns of dispersal and vicariance, and interspecific competition for shaping primate community structure. This is encouraging and we suggest that future research involving primate communities will be facilitated by increased utilization of quantitative methods focused on macroecological and phylogenetic approaches. This will enable researchers to address a variety of novel questions focused on the ecology and evolution of communities. We draw attention to training resources and publically available data and we highlight burgeoning areas of research that warrant further consideration in an effort to catalyze future research on primate communities.

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