MOD004088 Tropical Ecology and Management


You will choose one or a combination of the data sets ( primate behaviour data) that have been collected on the Uganda field course (2015-2019). You will analyse the data, and then present and discuss these results. You are not required to include an introduction or methods section but must include a results section, a discussion, and a list of references.

For assessment 010 you will be doing a partial practical write up (results and discussion sections) using one or more of the data sets we have collected at Kibale Forest, in Uganda between 2015 and 2019.

You will need to decide which data set(s) you will use. The following suggestion is designed to help you think about each data set, to help you make this decision.

Although you don’t need to write a methods section, it is useful for you to have details of the methods used to collect the data.

Many of the data sets were collected, based on a comparison between primary, secondary and selectively logged forest. There are photographs of primary (left) and secondary (right) forest, below. The selectively logged forest (you will see this category in some of the datasets) we sampled at Kibale is more or less indistinguishable from primary forest, having largely recovered since logging in 1969.

For each I would like you to consider:

  • how to collate the data
  • how to display the data
  • what questions and analysis to use
  • what statistical test(s) to use
  • are there issues or problems with the data?

Thinking about data in this way and maybe doing some sketch graphs is always a really helpful step in looking for patterns and then deciding the best way forward

Primate behaviour data

We conducted a field study comparing the broad behavioural patterns exhibited by the two species of Colobus monkey native to Kibale National Park: the Eastern black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza) and the Ugandan red colobus (Procolobus tephrosceles). It is visually apparent that the two species appear to live in troops of different sizes and may have different activity budgets. Groups of students conducted an observational study to identify why the behaviours differ between these two species according to their ecology.

Four categories of demographic and behavioural data were collected.

  1. demography of the troop,
  2. spatial spread of the troop,
  3. foraging behaviour of the troop,
  4. communicative behaviour of the troop.

Each colobus group was obseved for 30 minutes.

1) Demography

Students recorded the number of males, number of females, number of juveniles and the overall size of each troop studied.

2) Spatial spread

At five minute intervals over 30 minutes, students noted the distance in metres over which the group was spread, and the distance in metres to the nearest neighbour of a random male, a random female, and a random juvenile. In addition, the identity of the nearest neighbour was recorded for the random juvenile at these five minute intervals, identified as either its mother, or another individual.

3) Foraging behaviour

Throughout the observation period, each discrete foraging choice was noted, recording the broad food category that was chosen by individuals of each troop of monkeys: young leaves, mature leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, or bark.

4) Communicative behaviour

The students noted each vocalisation produced over the 30 minute period, for each troop. The producer of each vocalisation was also identified (male, female or juvenile) and the acoustic properties (i.e. pitch and amplitude) of the vocalisations were estimated on 1-10 scales. Pitch was measured from 1-10, with 1 representing a very low frequency sound and 10 representing a very high frequency sound. Amplitude was also scored in this way, with 1 representing a very quiet sound and 10 representing a very loud sound.

Clarity & use of language. (5%)

Presentation and description of results. Figures and tables should be correctly formatted and referred to in the text. (25%) (learning outcome 4)

Use of statistics and their correct presentation (10%) (learning outcome 4)

Explanation of results in terms of ecological processes. (25%) (learning outcomes 1 & 3)

How well your work is related to other, relevant scientific findings. (25%) (learning outcomes 1 & 3)

The field course report part of the assessment covers learning outcomes 1, 3 and 4:

  1. Comprehend and demonstrate a detailed knowledge of habitats, biodiversity and significant climatic, topographic and biological factors in tropical environments, which determine the distribution of fauna and flora.

Your practical report should show that you understand the ecological and/or behavioural ecological processes that explain the patterns shown in the data.

  1. Synthesise data and other sources of information in order to critically evaluate and draw conclusions regarding the biotic and abiotic factors, which influence habitats and their biodiversity in tropical environments.

By completing the report, you will show that you are able to collate, present, report and discuss data. You need to show that you are able to draw conclusions from the patterns you find and relate this to the ecological processes that may explain what you have found.

  1. Work within a group to carry out fieldwork techniques, and then individually to analyse and evaluate the data collected and present a synthesis of the results.

In your practical report you will show that you can analyse some of the data collected and that you are able to present it in the form of a written report form.

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