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REPORT: IPS2008 EDINBURGH
The International Primatological Society
3-8 August 2008
We arrive on Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh. The streets are packed with
revellers, street performers, and we can taste the festival atmosphere. The
coming week we will see very little of the Edinburgh Festival, because we
are headed for the Edinburgh International Conference Centre where the
XXII Congress of the International Primatological Society is held. The
programme is so packed with presentations, lectures, films, posters
receptions and social events, that we will hardly set foot outside the
The Congress was opened by Paul Honess, the 2008 Chair of the IPS
Executive Committee, who welcomed the 1000 plus delegates, the
committee organisers and the representatives of the Primate Society of
Great Britain to the Congress. This was followed by a welcome from the
president of PSGB, Ann MacLarnon. She paid homage to Dr Charles
Lockwood, who died suddenly on 14 July 2008, and is greatly missed by
friends and colleagues. Stephen Nash was awarded the PSGB Medal for
Special Contributions to Primatology for his wonderful drawings of
primates. The welcome ceremony was concluded by a photographic
presentation by Cristina Mittermeier and Kathy Moran, and followed by a
welcome drinks reception.
The President of IPS, Richard Wrangham, addressed the delegates on
Monday morning on The growing importance of primate research, drawing
particular attention to the links between primatological research and the
development of conservation, education and captive care strategies.
Professor Wrangham pointed out that despite the vast increases seen in
primate-focused field-work over the last 60 years, the threats to primates
continue to mount with nearly 50% of all primate species classed as
threatened. He particularly espoused the benefits of long-term field
research, drawing on the examples of Kibale and Gombe, including the
encouragement of ecotourism and national park creation, increased
community investment and the introduction of education programmes. His
over-arching message was to encourage a synergy between research and
conservation and he ended with a call to “Let a thousand field stations
The presidential address was followed by Andrew Whiten, who gave a
plenary lecture on the presence of tradition and culture in non-human
primate societies and what this tells us about the origin of culture in our
own species. Much of the lecture consisted of the description of ingenious
experiments aimed at uncovering the mechanisms behind social learning,
the passing on of traditions and the possible existence of culture in primates.
Many of the studies Professor Whiten described were designed to bridge the
gap between wild observations and captive experiments such as is the
Living Links exhibit at Edinburgh Zoo, which the IPS delegates would have
a chance to visit later in the week. The exhibit consists of two mixed groups
of capuchin and squirrel monkeys set up to examine culture, traditions and
social learning via ‘diffusion experiments’. Professor Whiten finished his
lecture by questioning the currently popular idea that the evolution of true
imitation kick-started the rapid development of human culture, drawing on
the results of diffusion experiments to propose that tradition and imitative
copying were in place before this development and suggesting that another
factor such as tool manufacture may have played a more important role.
After the coffee break, and throughout the rest of the week, there were an
overwhelming number of concurrent sessions, on a wide variety of topics.
We will only discuss a few here. Gottfried Hohmann in his talk on
Frugivory and food sharing in bonobos and chimpanzees presented the first
evidence of hunting of monkeys by wild bonobos, and the implications
these findings have on evolutionary models, and Peter Henzi in his talk on
alpha male, the most likely father of a troop’s infants, can decrease
infanticide risk by conceding conceptions to other group males. The poster
session to conclude the first day was a great opportunity to find out about
current research projects, and meet the researchers working on them.
The session was opened on Tuesday morning by a plenary lecture by Robert
Martin on Primate evolution: the general framework revisited, a discussion
of the importance of using complementary methods to construct a reliable
account of primate evolution, with a special emphasis on reproductive and
brain biology. Lynne Miller convened an interesting symposium on Field
experiments: the challenges and benefits of using experimental methods in
field research, in which several researchers such as Tabitha Price and Dawn
Kitchen showed increasing importance of field-work experiments in
primatology. Another fascinating symposium on Emerging methods in field
Thompson and Erin Vogel to discuss brand new techniques such as the use
of urinary C-peptide of insulin to investigate energy balance in wild
primates. On Tuesday evening we had a truly Scottish experience, Ceilidh
dancing, which was easily the highlight of the week. Whilst at first the
dancing was tentative, and the dancers closely followed the instructions of
the caller, as the evening wore on the dancers got more confident, and the
dancing more spirited. We would like to give a special mention here to
Robin Dunbar, who was not seen to leave the dance floor, and to mention
that his energetic dancing did not belie his Scottish roots. The only
complaint was the evening ending, as we could all have easily danced until
the wee hours of the morning!
Wednesday was opened by a plenary lecture by Karen Strier, who talked on
Primate populations: where behavioural variation, life histories, and
conservation coincide. Jon Oates gave a very interesting talk on Historical
and biogeographical perspective on the apes of western Cameroon and
Nigeria in which he presented evidence that the vellerosus chimpanzees are
closer related to troglodytes and schweinfurthii, than to verus chimpanzees.
In the evening there was another opportunity to meet researchers and talk
about their current projects in the second poster session. Russell
Mittermeier reminded us of the critical condition many primates are
currently in, in his public lecture on The world’s 25 most endangered
primates – 2008-2010.
Thursday was opened with a plenary lecture from Toshisada Nishida,
winner of the 2008 IPS Lifetime Achievement Award, giving an overview
of forty years of chimpanzee research at Mahale, the project he has headed
since 1965. An interesting collection of papers on Eco- and phylo-
the decrease in primate diversity with increasing latitude by Brian Schreier.
He proposed that the general increase in body size and the decrease in
variance away from the tropics is due to the fact that the tropics were the
cradle of primate evolution and that only a subset of species, those that have
neither the high absolute energetic demands of very large species or the
high intake rate requirements of very small species, can survive the
constraints of a temperate climate. The day concluded with a barbecue at
Edinburgh Zoo and a chance for delegates to explore the many primate
exhibits including the new Living Links centre. Tickets for this event were
so coveted that counterfeit tickets were found to be in circulation!
Unfortunately this meant that queues for the barbecue were long, and little
time was left to walk around the zoo.
The final day of the Congress was opened by Louise Barrett who talked on
Baboon natural histories. She showed, with the example of didabots that
complex behaviour can come from very simple mechanisms, and called for
a more holistic view of primates, in order to understand how brain, body
and world interact. We were reminded again of the difficulties of primate
conservation and the ubiquity of the bushmeat trade during a spontaneously
organised extra session in which several unedited films by the independent
filmmaker Steve Jackson were shown. These disturbing films were made
three weeks prior to the Congress at Libreville market in Gabon, and
showed how openly bushmeat is sold there, despite the illegality of this
trade. The films also showed how bush animals are used in traditional
medicine, and showed government officials shopping for bushmeat,
emphasizing the difficulty with developing policies to counter the bushmeat
trade. Amongst the afternoon’s symposia was a collection of lectures on
Hormonal studies of social and reproductive behaviour which included
fascinating talks by Michael Heistermann, James Higham and Stuart
We would like to take the opportunity to thank the organizers for such a
successful event. We found it particularly enjoyable to see a good mixture
of established primatologists, new researchers and students present their
Nienke Alberts & Emily Lodge
PSGB Spring Meeting 2009
“Form and Function”
and Friday 17
Bournemouth University, Landsdowne Campus, UK
Call for abstracts
This year’s spring meeting will be held at Bournemouth University
The theme of the talks by invited speakers is "Form and Function", in which
we will explore the links among morphology, behaviour and ecology.
Members and non-members are invited to submit abstracts for poster and
oral presentations on any topic of interest to PSGB members. We wish
particularly to encourage postgraduate students and those early in their
career to present, but anybody is welcome to submit an abstract (abstract
deadline: 1 March 2009) to
We will also have short skills sessions on topics that will be particularly
useful for postgraduate students (e.g. "presentation skills", "introduction to
morphometrics").We would like to encourage others to organise short
workshops around the meeting - please contact the organisers if you would
like to do so .
Bournemouth University is hosting an associated public lecture by
Emeritus Jan A.R.A.M. van Hoofffrom Utrecht University (early)
Thursday evening. Prof. van Hooff (who is the scientific father of a long list
of prominent primatologists) will discuss the evolution of and muscle
involvement in the facial expressions of emotion, following in the footsteps
of Charles Darwin’s work on this topic.
Prof. Robin Crompton,University of Liverpool, will talk about
“Locomotor mechanics of the Laetoli Footprint Makers: evidence from
experimental pedobarography and computer simulation”.
Prof. Robin Dunbar,Oxford University, will talk about “Darwin, time
and morphology: constraints on sociality in primates and their
implications for evolution”.
Dr Sarah Elton, HYMS Hull & University of York, will investigate
the link between anatomy and ecology.
Prof. Gabriele Macho,University of Bradford, will present “Linking
morphology, behaviour and ecology: how reliable are inferences from
fragmentary hominin remains?”
Dr Todd C. Rae, Roehampton University, will investigate the
importance of phylogenetic relationships in studying anatomical
Marwell Zoo will allow meeting attendees to visit the zoo for free. We will
organise a coach trip to Marwell Zoo on Saturday 18
April at the cost of
Full /Associate Member
Full /Associate Non-Member
Excursion to Marwell Zoo
Students presenting at the conference may apply for £50 student bursaries to
attend this meeting. These will be available on a first come first served basis
and subject to review of their submitted abstract.
Please submit an abstract or send any suggestions to
. Pre-registration and registration at the door will
Registration forms will appear on the website soon.
The meeting is being organised by Dr
Amanda Korstjens, Conservation
Sciences, Bournemouth University ; Dr
Setchell,Anthropology, Durham University; and Dr
Psychology, University of Portsmouth
For the latest information and details on how to register, accommodation,
etc. please visit .
PSGB Winter Meeting 2009
"Primate Stress: Causes, Responses and Consequences"
Call for Papers
1st to 2nd December 2009
Zoological Society of London, Meeting Rooms. ZSL, Regents Park,
Paul Honess (Oxford University) Contact:
Stuart Semple (Roehampton University)
Tessa Smith (University of Chester)
The meeting will focus on aspects of stress in primates covering
behavioural, physiological and neurological responses to stressors in the
physical and social environment both in captivity and the wild. The
consequences of these responses for the individual’s biological fitness will
be assessed. The meeting will consist of a number of invited presentations
as well as proffered papers spread, in themed sessions, over two days. There
will also be one or more poster sessions.
Call for Papers
The organizers invite the submission of abstracts for oral (typically not
exceeding 25-30 mins, including questions) and poster presentations
covering research in all areas of primate stress, but in particular in those
areas outlined above. All abstracts will be reviewed by at least two referees.
Authors may be asked to present a poster rather than an oral paper. The
organisers’ decisions on the inclusion of presentations in the programme
will be final.
These guidelines are provided for general information, but are not intended
to be prescriptive. As the abstracts will be published in Primate Eye and
may be cited, they should summarize your work so that your study can be
understood without additional information.
The abstract must be submitted to
Worddocument, written using
10pt Arial fontand include the following:
Preferred format: Oral presentation / Poster presentation
Names and institutional affiliationof presenting and any co-
Email addressof corresponding author.
Keywords: 4 maximum.
The body of the abstract: a single block paragraph, maximum 250
Use metric units of measurement, standard abbreviations and statistical
symbols. Capitalise statistics (e.g. P < 0.05), but do not italicise. Give
scientific names (italicised) for all species where a common name is used.
Avoid including references. Please check spelling and grammar carefully
and define all acronyms and non-standard abbreviations.
Tuesday 30 June 2009.