Caloosa Belle

FGCU Students Conduct Research at Primate Sanctuary

FGCU undergraduate biology students Matthew and Adam Henderson, Christina Pagan and Gina Cheadle conducted a large-scale research study at a local educational and federally-licensed nonprofit primate sanctuary, The Talkin’ Monkeys Project. The group set out to study how recordings of female gibbon calls impacted overall gibbon behavior and communication.

Dr. Deborah Misotti of The Talkin’ Monkeys Project, center, hosted FGCU students Matthew and Adam Henderson, Christina Pagan and Gina Cheadle who conducted research at the facility. (submitted photo)

The group manipulated and recorded female calls, played back recorded calls to the gibbons and measured behavior during the recordings in comparison to behavior during control calls.

“I learned a lot about problems you run into with conducting scientific research that I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom. Having the opportunity to study gibbons in the natural environment the sanctuary provides made a huge difference in my research experience,” said FGCU biology student Matthew Henderson.

While previous studies have observed the effect of environmental stimuli on gibbon behavior, this is one of the first studies observing the behavioral effects of gibbon calls. If the students discover that certain calls elicit approach responses from gibbons, the results may lead to global implications in gibbon conservation and research.
This summer, a group of field research scientists from Germany will be using the random call created by the students in a gibbon census count in two provinces in Vietnam. FGCU I.A.C.U.C. approved research has gone global!

Matthew Henderson graduated from F.G.C.U. on May 1, 2016 and is now moving on to an internship at a large gibbon rescue sanctuary in Thailand. This internship was arranged for Henderson at a recent primate conference in South Carolina. The Founding Directors, Deborah D. Misotti, Ph.D. of The Talkin’ Monkeys Project and Edwin Weik of Wildlife Friend Foundation of Thailand, entered into an agreement to continue to offer such internships in future to recent college graduates.

About The Talkin’ Monkeys Project
The Talkin’ Monkeys Project was established in 2003 by Deborah and Tom Misotti. The federally licensed nonprofit primate sanctuary aims not only to rescue mistreated primates, but also to educate the public on important environmental and animal welfare issues. Hendry County Board of County Commissioners recognizes the sanctuary as an educational facility benefiting the greater South West Florida Community. The project relies heavily on support from volunteers and donations. The sanctuary is not open to the public. To learn more about The Talkin’ Monkeys Project, visit its website or follow the sanctuary on Facebook.