© Carolyn Thompson 2017. All rights reserved.

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Research

My research focuses on the impact of anthropogenic activities such as unregulated tourism and habitat loss on primate populations and behaviours. The majority of my field work has been spent in Madagascar and Indonesia looking at population densities, population demographics and change over time, ranging behaviour, individual development, and social systems. I have studied a wide variety of primate species in these countries as a result: Ring-tailed lemurs, Coquerel's sifakas, Bornean orangutans, Southern Bornean gibbons and Red leaf monkeys.

 

In 2014 I fell in love with our singing, swinging cousins: the gibbons (Hylobatids). I have since directed my research efforts towards them. Hylobatidae are one of the most threatened families in the animal kingdom according to the International Union of Conservation for Nature. The Hainan gibbon, for example, is one the world’s rarest mammals with only 26-28 individuals remaining! This makes my research, investigating patterns and drivers of critically endangered gibbon decline, extremely important if we are to save these species on the brink of extinction.

The forgotten apes

Click here to read all about my current, exciting research on some of the world's rarest primates, including the Hainan gibbon and the newly discovered Skywalker Hoolock gibbon. 

Population Dynamics in Bornean Agile gibbons

Between 2014 and 2016 I worked for the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF), a conservation research NGO based in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. BNF has the longest running gibbon data set in the world, first initiated by Dr. Susan Cheyne. I collected a variety of data on this species relating to population size, distribution, social behaviour, diet, development and health. I was especially interested in population change over time, family dynamics and mating systems. See published works.

the importance of population monitoring

Dr. Helen Morrogh-Bernard at BNF first began researching the Bornean orangutans in 2003. BNF now prides itself on having the second longest running orangutan project in the world. I was fortunate enough to spend two years adding to this data set looking at mother-infant relationships and population monitoring. I presented BNF's long-term population monitoring trend data between 1997 and 2015 at the International Conference on Rainforest Ecology, Diversity and Conservation in Borneo (Malaysia, 2015). See published works.

ground use in a disturbed peat swamp forest

Dr. David Ehlers-Smith from BNF began collecting feeding, activity, population and ranging data on Red leaf monkeys in 2009. When I started managing the project, I focused the research efforts on social dynamics, ranging behaviour and forest use within different canopy strata. I also field-supervised a Masters research project on contexts of Red leaf monkey vocalisations. See published works.

tourism increases anxiety and aggression in ring-tailed lemurs

For my MRes project, supervised by Dr. Caroline Ross, I investigated the impact of tourism pressures (proximity, density and presence) on ring-tailed lemur behaviour. My findings indicated that the greater the tourist pressure, more self-directed, anxiety-induced behaviours were observed. Intra-troop and inter-troop aggression was also more frequent. Click here for published works.