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Understanding primate communities: Recent developments and future directions


  • Jason M. Kamilar,

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    • Jason Kamilar is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy at Midwestern University and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. He is interested in the behavior, ecology, and evolution of primates from a comparative perspective. Email:

  • Lydia Beaudrot

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    • Lydia Beaudrot is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology at the University of California, Davis. She is interested in the factors that structure tropical vertebrate communities across spatial scales and has longstanding interests in primate behavioral ecology and conservation.


In 1999, the edited volume Primate Communities presented several studies that examined broad-scale patterns of primate diversity.1 Similar studies were being conducted on nonprimate taxa; advances in data availability and statistical approaches were allowing scientists to investigate a variety of new questions and to reexamine classical questions in novel ways. While such studies on nonprimate taxa have continued at a steady pace, they have only crept forward for primate species (Fig. 1). In the intervening time, the field of macroecology (Box 1) rapidly developed and has resulted in several books[2-4] and the establishment of new research institutes. We suggest that examining primate communities, especially in a macroecological context, is an important line of research for our field to embrace and an area where biological anthropologists can provide major contributions. We review the current state of research, describe new datasets and research tools, and suggest future research directions.