Amboseli Baboon Research Project




Protocols for long-term monitoring and data collection



Susan Alberts

Department of Biology, Duke University


Jeanne Altmann

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University


Published by the authors, June 2011

(Previous editions April 1979, July 1981, January 1982, July 1983 and December 1983 by Jeanne Altmann, Stuart Altmann and Glenn Hausfater, February 2004 by Jeanne Altmann and Susan Alberts)



The Amboseli Baboon Research Project has been ongoing for four decades. Over the years a variety of data types have been collected. Of the data sets described in this guide, some (i.e., demographic data) have been ongoing since 1971, while others extend back for somewhat shorter periods. Almost all data types that we currently collect extend back to at least 1980. Still other types of data were collected for shorter periods of time and are no longer a focus of our research efforts. Whatever the data set, the value of the data collected at the Project lies in its consistency and in its consistently high quality across time. This guidebook describes the procedures we use to collect these data, which allow us to monitor the demography, behavior and habitat of the Amboseli baboons. It is meant as a guide for the permanent staff in Amboseli, for short-term visitors to the Project (less than 4 months), and for visiting researchers pursuing their own projects (Ph.D. students, post-docs and other collaborators that stay long enough to learn the baboon ID’s and contribute to the long-term data). It is absolutely essential that everyone who contributes to the Project’s data set collect the data in accordance with the guidelines laid out here. Visiting researchers will collect additional data for their own specific research questions, which will extend beyond the monitoring data described here; these visiting researchers will still contribute to the monitoring data collection that is described in these procedures.

When you contribute to the data of the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, you are contributing to a data set that we believe is unique in its time depth, breadth and detail. It is important to us that you take this responsibility very seriously. Never be satisfied with your data collection; always strive for more data of higher quality.

Permanent field staff should read this entire guide once every year. A good time to do this is during a visit from one of the directors. Visiting researchers should read it again after they have been in Amboseli for three months, and again after their eighth month. Each time, notify Jeanne and Susan immediately if there are any differences between what is described here and what you are doing, and if there are any sections that are not clear.


PDF iconMonitoring_Guide.pdfclick here to download a complete version of the monitoring guide.