The Value of Long-Term Research: The Mountain Gorilla as a Case Study

  • Netzin Gerald Steklis
  • H. Dieter Steklis
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


During the 1930s and 1940s, the early days of primatological research, “prolonged” field studies typically consisted of a single field season of a few months' duration. At best, these early studies were comprised of a series of two to three such field seasons (see Carpenter, 1964). Short-term field studies provided valuable first documentation, or a “snapshot,” of a population's or a single social group's ecological setting, its size and structure, and, if habituation permitted, its basic behavioral repertoire. Beginning in the late 1950s, however, there was a trend for primate field studies to increase in duration. In surveying the literature over a five-year period during the late 1980s, Dobson and Lyles (1989) found that the median duration of primate field studies on 53 populations, representing 18 species, was 1.5 years. Though the length of some of these studies reflects the average time required to complete doctoral research, the short duration is probably also a...


Life History Trait Mountain Gorilla Life History Data Western Lowland Gorilla Western Gorilla 
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We are grateful to the many DFGFI-Karisoke researchers, assistants, and staff whose work has enriched our understanding of the biology of mountain gorillas and its ecosystem, and whose knowledge has contributed to capacity building. We particularly thank Martha Robbins for helpful comments on the manuscript. A large debt and ongoing gratitude is owed to the Rwandan Karisoke staff, who, for over nearly four decades, have given their hearts, minds, and, sadly, sometimes their lives, to make possible scientific research, and to insure the continuous protection of this population of mountain gorillas. We also thank the parks authorities of Rwanda (ORTPN), Democratic Republic of Congo (ICCN), and Uganda (UWA) for their protection efforts, support of, and permission to conduct long-term research in their national parks.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Netzin Gerald Steklis
    • 1
  • H. Dieter Steklis
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International AtlantaGeorgiaUSA
  2. 2.The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International AtlantaGeorgiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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