Peanut Pulley and the Happy Monkey
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My dissertation research has focused on the foraging ecology of Sykes’ monkeys in the Soutpansberg Mountains of South Africa. I use experimental food patches containing peanuts mixed into a sawdust substrate to measure the giving up density (amount of food left behind when the monkey quits the food patch) of the peanuts. One facet of my research has involved measuring the monkeys’ fear of predation by leopards. Depending on the location of the food patch (on the ground where leopards are a danger or in trees where the danger is less intense, the monkeys will leave behind different amounts of peanuts. Understanding the behavioral responses of the monkeys to factors in their habitats, such as predation risk, can assist in efforts to reintroduce this rare species to areas where it has been extirpated. The image depicts a male Sykes’ monkey near one of the food patches. The sawdust sticking to the fur on his leg indicates that he has recently foraged in the patch. An unintentional effect in the photo is that the monkey appears to be operating a pulley for the food patch.