Primate Behavioural Ecology Field School in Cambodia

Primate Behavioural Ecology Field School in Cambodia

The Primate Behavioural Ecology field school is an intensive course run in the Summer semester at a research site in Northeastern Cambodia that is home to six species of primates, including those of interest for this field school: Norhtern buff-cheeked crested gibbons (Nomascus annamensis) and silvered langurs (Trachypithecus germainii). The emphasis in this field school is the development of meticulous and careful data collection including the fundamentals of measuring behavioural and ecological variables, and the preparation of samples for hormonal analysis, nutritional analysis and the use of GIS in primate research.

Students are divided up into small groups and each day assigned to either gibbons, langurs or ecological surveys. On gibbon days, students will leave basecamp at 4:30am and walk to the gibbon home range where they wait for the gibbons to call at which point the animals are located. Students will stay with the gibbons until mid-day and with the assistance of a local field guide and an ANU staff member collect behavioural data on all individual gibbons. Langur days start at 5:30am with students leaving basecamp to walk trails in the home range of the langurs until they are located. Once found, students will collect demographic and where possible behavioural data on the unhabituated group of monkeys. When doing ecological surveys, students will work with a local guide to conduct multiple ecological plots in which all trees will be counted measured and identified to the species level. Once data collection is finished for the day, students will work at basecamp to conduct a data analysis exercise based on whether they collected behavioural and ecological data on that day. These assignments will be handed in daily and marked to ensure continual improvement in data collection techniques.

In addition to primatology field methods, students will be trained in the other skills required to be a successful researcher such as teamwork, problem solving, and logistical arrangements. Students will also be faced with conservation issues that arise in the field and will be challenged to think about ways we can deal with current threats for primate species. We will also hold tutorials to assess conservation literature to add to our understandings of conservation science in theory to be applied in practice in the field.

An information session for interested students will be held in July/August each year where students can register interest in the program and learn more about the daily life of a field school students. The program includes both pre-departure classroom training over two days before departure (typically in the November before the January departure), fieldwork at Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park over three weeks and then independent work on a research paper upon returning from the field.

Further undergraduate course information can be found here: 

Further postgraduate course infromation can be found here:

Please note that this course will not be offered in 2019. 

Image gallery

Updated:  31 January 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications