What tools and methods is Lindsay using to collect data on
the Roloway monkeys?

Like most wildlife biologists working in the field, Lindsay is using a wide variety of tools to help her collect information—everything from complex technical tools to just plain old paper and pencil. She needs tools that will help her identity the location of any monkeys found and identify the kind of vegetation the monkeys prefer. Below are the tools she uses on a daily basis. Of course when she gets back home she will use computers to help her analyze the data she has collected during her study.


It is impossible to count every single monkey in the forest. Instead, the transect method samples the monkey population to estimate the total number of monkeys in a given area. This methods allows Lindsay to determine if the number of monkeys stays the same in the area over months, and if they have any preference for where they like to be in the canopy. For example, do they prefer to be at the top or the middle, in more light or more shade? She can also tell if there is a change in the numbers of species in an area over time.

Lindsay establishes and measures the length of all transects before any data is collected. She then walks each transect slowly, generally without stopping or backtracking. This is important to be sure that monkey groups are never counted more than once. If you remember, Tamara did the same thing when she counted river dolphins only she did it from the boat. The boat always had to go at a speed that was slightly faster than the dolphins could swim.

Lindsay always allows two days to pass between samples to alleviate the influence her activity has on the monkeys. These transects are always walked in opposite directions alternating each time to ensure a random sample. Transects are started at the same time every day.

The location of each monkey sighting is marked to be sampled for vegetative characteristics in order to determine the general habitat use patterns of this species. This method also allows her to locate other threatened and endangered species.

Each transect is begun by recording the exact longitude and latitude of the trail head using a Global Positioning System or GPS. The GPS also records the observer's speed and the time of day. General weather characteristics are also noted.

While it may seem simple to count monkeys in the wild, it requires a lot of patience and careful observation. Often times the monkeys are very difficult to see clearly as they are in the top layer of the canopy and they move quickly.

We have posted the schedule of transects Lindsay performed in the Krokosua Hills Forest Reserve so you can have a better idea of what she is doing.

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Vegetation Plot

Each time a monkey group is located the position is surveyed for vegetative characteristics. Lindsay records the name and abundance of the trees, shrubs, vines and saplings in the plot. She then measures the amount of canopy cover and degree of human disturbance. Also, because the tall emergent trees in the rainforest are important to Roloway monkeys, she will take data on the species, canopy width, leaf condition, fruit availability, epiphyte and vine loads for all emergent trees.

Range Finder Binoculars

Range Finder Binoculars are used to sight moving animals in the trees or on the ground. Lindsay takes a bearing on a monkey by pushing the button on top of the binoculars which activates a laser. When the button is pushed again, the finder gives a readout of the distance from where the user is standing to the monkey.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

A GPS is a hand held device that communicates with at least 3 satellites simultaneously to determine an exact location on the earth in degrees longitude and latitude. The GPS runs off of AA batteries. Lindsay will use it to determine the location of monkeys on the transect.

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This is a small handheld device that measures canopy cover. This is important to determine how shady or covered an area is as canopy cover can dramatically alter the temperature of the surrounded forest.

DBH Tape

DBH stands for Diameter at Breast Height. This tape is used to measure the diameter of all the large trees in Lindsay's vegetation plots. The tape is stretched around the bole of the tree at roughly breast height.

Taxonomic Key

This book is very important to a researcher. It is organized in a hierarchical manner and is used to identify plant or animal species. Lindsay will use it to help her identify and differentiate the many rainforest plant species used by Roloway monkeys.

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