DUNWOODY, Ga. — Perimeter College students will be able to study primate behavior in Indonesia thanks to a $330,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.
The NSF Build and Broaden 3.0 Initiative to conduct research on primates in Indonesia was awarded to Amanda Ellwanger, an anthropology instructor at Perimeter College, along with Erin Riley and Henry Scharf of San Diego State University. The project enables Perimeter College students to participate in research both in Georgia and in Indonesia. The students will be fully funded to participate in research abroad, Ellwanger said.
The researchers will focus on how people and primates — particularly macaques in the wild — interact and mutually impact one another’s behavior in contexts where people are rapidly modifying traditional landscapes. Ellwanger has experience studying primate behavioral ecology, human-primate interactions, and human perceptions of animals and the environment in Nicaragua, China and South Africa.
She is excited about this new research opportunity for her students.
“Through this grant, Perimeter students will have the opportunity to collaborate with students from SDSU and Indonesian scholars to develop critical skills needed to become successful researchers and global citizens,” Ellwanger said. “The field training will enable students to develop skills in diverse research methods and to build their teamwork and problem-solving skills, thereby increasing their confidence in their ability to conduct research.”
The project goals are to determine how human-modified habitats shape macaque behavior, examine human motivations to engage in interactions with macaques, and develop novel statistical methods to examine social networks and behavior.
To accomplish these objectives, the project team will collect longitudinal data on macaque social and ranging behavior, human-macaque interactions and forest food availability data, and conduct ethnographic interviews, she said.
“We hope this research can advance knowledge and understanding of collective decision-making, how primates adapt to expanding anthropogenic pressures and the factors driving human-wildlife interactions,” Ellwanger said.
The project begins in March 2023.
Instructor, Perimeter College
Amanda Ellwanger is an instructor of anthropology at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. Her doctoral dissertation examined how people shape the landscape of fear and social networks in chacma baboons. She provides expert knowledge of the theoretical framework (i.e., landscape of fear) to understand primate foraging and sociality in human-modified landscapes, and methodological experience conducting ethological and ethnographic research regarding how human perceptions of animals and the environment shape contexts for interspecies interactions.