Data are recorded
on a laptop computer at zoo sites using software developed especially
for ChimpanZoo. The program enables researchers to study chimpanzee
behavior over an extended period of time utilizing data from several
chimpanzee communities. Data collection and data software are
also applicable to research studies of other nonhuman species
of primates as well as humans.
The CZOO data collection program is divided into two parts: header and behavioral
information. Header information identifies the researcher, subjects, institution,
type of facility, and environmental factors (weather conditions, audience size
and noise levels). It also allows us to keep a continuous log of estrus cycle
information of each female making it possible to study the estrus cycles of
individual and female chimpanzees as a group. In addition, the date and time,
length of point sample intervals, and time duration of the observation session
are included in header information.
When the observer completes entering header information, a prompt reminds the
observer to begin behavioral data collection by choosing a contextual category,
such as affinitive, mother-infant, agonistic, submissive, or solitary behavior.
The observer selects the appropriate context and is prompted to enter the appropriate
behavior(s) observed. The observer is notified with a message if an inappropriate
behavior has been selected. If the researcher misses a sample point, the program
automatically restarts the clock for the next interval.
Behavior categories are arranged in broad hierarchical categories. For example,
aggressive behaviors can only be entered under the agonistic context. If an
observer wished to record an observation of a charging display, the context
agonistic would be entered first then the four-letter code signifying a charging
display. A submenu appears on the screen for the observer to indicate which
stage of the several behaviors that comprise a charging display was observed.
An automatic prompt appears on the screen and the direction of the behavioral
encounter (who charged whom?). And if a hand is used, for example, to hold,
touch, grab, etc., a prompt reminds the observer to enter the use of left or
right hand, both hands, or mouth. In this manner, we are able to record approximately
1,153 discrete behaviors using 58 behavioral codes. The program can be altered
to meet specific research needs by adding new behaviors and recording narrative
data at the end of each observation session. Data are sent to ChimpanZoo headquarters
on diskettes or by electronic mail to be placed in the combined database.
data collection program is fully documented with ia training guide
which includes an ethogram, instructional information, and a manual
for the recording of narrative data. The ChimpanZoo data collection
program has been taught in zoos, high school science classes,