My friend Colin Chapman Stops by to talk about his efforts in researching the great apes and their environment. We cover his time in Canada, US, Uganda and China. We discuss the importance of conservation ecology and he tells us about his favourite primates. This is an incredible conversation with an inspiring human being
Colin A. Chapman is a renowned professor who has made significant contributions to the field of primate ecology and conservation. He is a professor at the George Washington University, an Honorary Lecturer at Makerere University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In addition, he is an Associate Scientist of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York and a Member of the Committee of Research and Exploration at National Geographic. His 30+ years of research has focused on primate ecology, population regulation, nutrition, and disease dynamics, as well as conservation strategies including forest regeneration, animal population recovery, fragmentation, people-parks relationships, and the link between providing health care and conservation.
Colin Chapman was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he obtained his B.Sc., MA., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alberta. He obtained a joint Ph.D. under the supervision of Drs. Linda Fedigan, John Addicott, and Jan Murie. He later conducted his postdoctoral studies in Biology at McGill University with Louis Lefebvre and in Anthropology at Harvard University with Richard Wrangham. Prior to coming to Harvard, he conducted primate research in the Caribbean and Costa Rica, but he started research in Kibale National Park, Uganda, while at Harvard.
Conservation has been the tenet of Colin Chapman’s research in Uganda, where he helped establish Makerere University Biological Field Station, developed chimpanzee ecotourism, encouraged the local community to establish small-scale but sustainable ecotourism efforts, aided in fisheries management plans, and worked on evaluating forest regeneration for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. He contributed to making Kibale field stations sustainable through forming a consortium of University users and establishing a core of courses to come to the station. He established a clinic and then a mobile clinic that provides subsidized health care in return for improved park-people relationships. Throughout this time, he put a great deal of effort into the training of Ugandan students and park personnel.
Colin Chapman has received numerous honors and awards for his contributions to primate ecology and conservation. He was awarded the Velan Award for Humanitarian Service in 2017, was a Killam Research Fellow from 2012 to 2014, and has been the Canadian Research Chair in Primate Ecology and Conservation since 2012. He was also named the most cited anthropologist in Canada by the Globe and Mail newspaper in 2012 and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010.
During his career, Colin Chapman has made significant contributions to the field of primate ecology and conservation. He has been the Director of the Kibale Monkey Project since 1989, which focuses on primate ecology and conservation in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and has also examined forest dynamics, including those driven by climate change, elephant numbers, and forest succession. His team of researchers has also placed a heavy emphasis on conservation strategies, including forest regeneration, animal population recovery, fragmentation, people-parks relationships, zoonotic disease spread, and the link between providing health care and conservation.
Colin Chapman has worked on understanding animal group size and composition since his Ph.D. and formalized the Ecological Constraints Model. His research on the determinants of spider monkey group size led him to formalize this model. The Ecological Constraints Model proposes that differences in group size can be explained by the disadvantages of grouping, such as a reduction in foraging efficiency. Chapman has also been fascinated with red colobus and the determinants of both their group size and variation in abundance, which has led him to study nutritional ecology, disease ecology, and to document long-term change.
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