A New Method for Recording Complex Positional Behaviours and Habitat Interactions in Primates.

JP Myatt, RH Crompton, Susannah Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


In an arboreal habitat, primates have to cope with a complex meshwork of flexible supports in order to obtain food, find mates and avoid predators. To understand how animals interact with such complex environments we can study their positional behaviour. However, due to the intricate variation in locomotion and posture it can be difficult to capture details such as limb use (i.e. weight and balance), limb flexion and substrate use. This paper presents a suitable method replicable for any primate species, based on the movement notation technique, Sutton Movement Writing (SMW), aiming to record the spatial arrangement of limbs during positional behaviours on multiple, compliant supports. This method was piloted during a year-long field study of wild orangutans (Pongo abelii) and validated and tested for inter- and intraobserver reliability using videos from the field. Overall, SMW shows considerable promise for increasing the resolution with which positional behaviours can be recorded under field conditions and provides a way to extract numerical data for use in statistical analyses. This will facilitate our understanding of how behaviours vary in response to the environment, and the capabilities of primates to perform key tasks in their distinct niches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalFolia Primatologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2011


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