Is GIS monkey business?

Bonnell et al (2013) reports the modeling of the movement of the red colobus monkey in Uganda using the following factors: memory type (Euclidian or landmark based), memory retention and social rule. The use of GIScience in this project is novel and exciting: it shows the importance and the magnitude of the field. Most subjects have a spatial component, for which GIScience could be used.

However, I had a few questions about the research project and the ensuing article. Why were the monkeys only observed from 8AM to 1PM? Are they inactive in the afternoon? If there were a logical explanation for choosing this time slot, it would have been worthwhile to include it in the article. If not, it seems plausible that monkeys might act differently in the afternoon and that finding out if they do would be useful for the research. It would also have been interesting to add less predictable factors to the model, such as weather, natural disasters, human activity, etc.

Moreover, I’ve always felt it was impossible to prove or disprove theories on animals, as we will never know what they are thinking, and why. Would it be possible to use this kind on model on humans? I agree with Othello that by modeling human behaviour, it would be possible to get the subject’s opinion on the research’s findings.  It would be interesting to model the movements of students on a university campus, or in places where people act most like primates: bars.

Cheers, IMC



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