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Baboon watch

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Science  17 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6207, pp. 292-295
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6207.292

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Summary

Begun by Stuart and Jeanne Altmann, a husband-and-wife team, the Amboseli Baboon Research Project is the world's longest running baboon study. It set a standard for behavioral fieldwork 40 years ago when Jeanne devised a method of making systematic observations now implemented worldwide. Some of its subsequent findings have laid bare the workings of baboon troops, showing how conflict, habitat loss, predation, and drought shape the lives of these Old World primates. The work is also ever more relevant to our own species, helping reveal why women outlive men but are apparently sicker over the course of their lives, what happens to newborns as adults when their moms don't get enough food during pregnancy, and how social relationships among baboons influence longevity. The researchers there are now using new molecular tools to document the interplay between behavior and two hot research areas: epigenetics and the microbiome.

  • * in Amboseli National Park, Kenya