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Evaluating the need to habituate: modern approaches to field primatology during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

ABSTRACT

Although historically habituation has largely been the default method in field primatology, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-examine the possible detrimental effects of habituation, particularly disease transmission. Fortunately, habituation is no longer our only choice. Remote monitoring techniques have greatly improved over the last decade and can, in many circumstances, help us collect all the data we need and more. Furthermore, recent research shows potential disparities between individuals and species in habituation levels, which compounds what we already know about the not so-neutral effect habituation can have on primate behavior. Instead, remote technologies may generate standardized and objective results in a more ethically-sensitive way. Here, we discuss the risks and benefits of habituation and possible alternative methods, asking the question: in the COVID-19 era and beyond, should habituation be our default first step?

REFERENCE

Hansen, M. F.,  Kalan, A. K., Riley, E. P.,  Waters, S. 2022. Evaluating the need to habituate: modern approaches to field primatology during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Primate Conservation. 36.

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