SM Watts is an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow assigned to the National Science Foundation. Disclaimer: Any opinion, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material; are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Reducing the Ecological Impact of Field Research
Article first published online: 15 OCT 2012
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
American Journal of Primatology
Volume 75, Issue 1, pages 1–9, January 2013
How to Cite
BEZANSON, M., STOWE, R. and WATTS, S. M. (2013), Reducing the Ecological Impact of Field Research. Am. J. Primatol., 75: 1–9. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22086
- Issue published online: 18 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 15 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 9 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 9 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 16 JUL 2012
- Santa Clara University's Environmental Studies and Sciences department
- Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Hackworth
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.