The adult males groom one another while the adolescent, Tarzan, rests
So my focal target has gotten out of his nest and I am now following him through the forest. Now, what do I write down? This can depend on whether I am focusing on behavioral states or events. In general, states are behaviors that last for awhile, like resting and feeding, while events are behaviors that happen quickly, such as producing a vocalization or mating.
For events, you simply need to document the time that they occurred. For instance I could write “Sampson screamed at 9:47:35” (hour:minute:second). However, for states, obtaining information on duration is also important. So, one way to record data on these behaviors is to write down the start and end time of each behavioral state (called “Focal-Animal Sampling”). For instance I would write “From 10:55:43 to 11:03:07 Frodo was feeding ”. In this way I know how long each behavior lasted and when it occurred. Also, for both states and events, it is usually important to include additional information, such as why Sampson was screaming or what Frodo was eating. Continue reading
As I described in my last blog, I am conducting 8 hour focal follows on my target male chimpanzees. Since they are usually awake for 11-12 hours a day, I stagger my follows so that half of the time I am with them right when they wake up and half of the time with them up until they go to sleep. With transport time to and from, this usually means I am in the forest for 10-12 hours a day and go out 5-6 days a week.
Packing my waistpack the night before
The chimps normally wake up between 6:30 and 7:00am. However, they often nest far from camp and we always have to travel uphill to get to them. This means that on the days that I unnest, I have to leave the house between 5:00 and 5:30am. The night before, I pack my bag with the things I will need for the day. These are many of the supplies I showed you in my suitcase. I have my recorder and microphone, binoculars, camera, notepad and pens, and datasheets. I also carry a bottle of water, some water purification tablets (in case I need to refill my bottle from a forest stream), a basic first aid kit, and a poncho for the frequent rain storms this time of year. I stuff all of these things into a waistpack- the biggest thing we can get by carrying in the dense forest. Its a tight fit so I rarely carry any food with me, but when I do, I bring a small bag of peanuts and raisens or a piece of a power bar. The forest is dense and almost everything gets caught up in the vine tangles, so I try to travel as lightly as possible. Continue reading