The State of Ethnoprimatology: Its Use and Potential in Today's Primate Research

Tracie McKinney, Kerry M. Dore

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The human-primate interface is an increasingly relevant theme in primatological research. To understand the extent of ethoprimatological studies in contemporary primatology, we explored seven years of primatological literature through a systematic review. We reviewed original research papers published in the American Journal of Primatology, the International Journal of Primatology, Primates, and Folia Primatologica between January 2010 and December 2016 for the presence of fourteen search terms relevant to the ethnoprimatological approach. We sorted research papers into topical categories to identify trends in the recent primatological literature. Of the 1,551 papers that met the criteria for inclusion in this review, 12 papers (0.8%) self-identified as an ethnoprimatological study by using the term in the title or keywords, and only 17 papers (1.1%) used the term anywhere in their text. However, the presence of other relevant keywords – anthropogenic (16.3%), crop (9.1%), disturbance (18.7%), conflict (6.2%), human-nonhuman (0.5%), human-primate (1.0%), interface (1.5%), perception (2.5%), culture (2.6%), ethnography (0.1%), trade (6.8%), provision (16.1%), and tourism (4.6%) – in a variety of research papers suggests that the human-primate dimension is salient for many, if not most, areas of primatological interest. The ethnoprimatological approach is relevant to every research trend we identified in today’s primatology. We highlight existing literature that exemplifies ethnoprimatological engagement and present potential research questions in each area, demonstrating that primatology as a whole would benefit from greater attention to the human dimension.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2018


  • ethnoprimatology
  • primatological literature
  • anthropogenic disturbance
  • human-primate interface
  • conflict
  • biosocial approach


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