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Keywords:

  • ethics;
  • fieldwork;
  • sustainability

Researchers and students at biological field stations, especially in remote areas, are subject to leaving “footprints,” as we conduct research, work, and live in sensitive ecosystems. These footprints include travel, personal trash and waste, and field equipment (e.g. flagging, tree markers, plot markers, trail markers, monitoring devices, etc.). In this commentary, we argue that the field of primatology's commitment to minimum impact research should be more explicitly and visibly integrated into our ethical protocols with regard to field research and instruction in sensitive environments. We review current ethical codes and potential solutions to reducing our “researcher footprints” while conducting fieldwork. Using Costa Rica as an example, we address how sustainable fieldwork differs among varying cultural contexts and argue that researchers should be made responsible and accountable for how our presence, research, and teaching might impact the environment. We conclude by recommending a set of guidelines to be added to ethical protocols regarding research design, station policies, and the conduct of research and teaching in the field. Am. J. Primatol. 75:1-9, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.