Friday, November 25, 2011

Get a Poop, Lose the Group

As a collector of behavioral data, you’re faced with a choice.  Do you snag that fecal sample and risk losing your monkey family, or do you pass on the poo this one time, purely to forestall the toilsome task of relocating said monkeys?  It’s a tough call.  Even if you opt for the feces, just this once, there’s always a possibility that you won’t be able to find it amongst the leaf litter…. then you’re out one fecal sample AND one group of Callicebus.  But then again, if you forego this particular #2, who’s to say there will be another opportunity?  Monkeys are not predictable poopers.  Really you could argue it either way.

This field season, my group has been characterized by their private pooping practices.  Gathering feces from these monkeys has been an arduous chore.  If I have the pleasure of watching them relieve themselves, it is 9-times-out-of-10 completely inaccessible (i.e. at the base of a tree completely surrounded by vines, on the other side of the fence, etc.).  As of last Friday morning, I had a total of four fecal samples.  Everyone else?  Oh yeah, like fifteen.  I had FOUR…that’s just depressing.  So on Friday, when my male did his business right above a wide open trail, leaving that tiny brown nugget in plain sight, I seized upon the opportunity to expand my collection.  Not five minutes later, my subadult followed suit.  I grabbed that one too.  No hesitation here.  I don’t care if I lose those monkeys anymore…I just want that poo!  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  It’s taken weeks to collect four samples, and now two in one day?!  It was a glorious moment. 

GN's subadult, Jasy

The day didn’t stop there.  A few hours pass, then both my male and female leave perfect little pellets in very attainable locations.  PRAISE JESUS!  I doubled my pre-Friday fecal samples!  Friday might have been my best field day yet.  FECES FOR THE WIN.

Female, Carmen, in her favorite Cecropia

So what’s the answer to the all-important poop v. group debate?  There isn’t one.  It’s completely situational…but given my current, relatively poopless, situation, I’d say poop is going to prevail these last few days.  

FUN SCIENCE FACT#22:  Lake Baikal in Russia is the deepest lake in the world, measuring 1620 m deep (at its deepest point).  It is also the world's oldest lake, estimated to be around 25 million years old. At over 636 km long and 80 km wide, this freshwater lake holds over 20% of all the fresh water in the world.  Definitely in the top 5 of my travel bucket list.

1 comment:

  1. I know that dilemma well! I usually prioritize poop, unless it fell somewhere I really think I won't be able to find it (ie, I saw it sinking into the creek and know its a goner).