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Screen_Shot_2014-01-14_at_7.48.29_PMA student from the University of Calgary, Canada is in the country collecting DNA samples for research on primates in Belize, particularly spider monkeys. New techniques have been developed to add to the possibilities to study primates; one of them is the use of non-invasive monitoring. With this technique DNA of mammals can be collected in the field without disturbing them. CTV3 News spoke with research student, Jane Champion, who is currently working closely with Wildtracks, Manatee and Primate Rehabilitation Centre in Sarteneja.

Jane Champion– Primatology Research Student

“I do research on spider monkeys research area in Belize near la Democracia, that is the only wild spider monkey research in Belize and I am coming up here to get samples to compare it with the wild monkeys from there. So we will figure out through the DNA how monkeys are to the ones in that area and eventually hoping overtime will collect more samples of wild monkeys and be able to figure out all where all these confiscated ones come from originally.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter

“Yes but how does that work, what are you looking for in the feeces?”

Jane Champion– Primatology Research Student

“Well, when the poop pieces of skin come off their intestines and that gets send to a lab and they analyze it and they can go to DNA and they compare it with samples to see how related those are, so it is all comparison and afterward like well it is classified and our DNA is similar or not.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“Is that a part of conservation effort, why is it being done?”

Jane Champion– Primatology Research Student

“Yes it is a part of the University in Canada and we are trying to get more information on spider monkeys and where spider monkeys are and where they are coming from, so we know more about Belize’s spider monkeys.”

Victor Castillo – Reporter

“Will this research assist in making the decision as to where to release these animals at the end of the time they need to be rehabilitated?”

Jane Champion– Primatology Research Student

“Yeah, because they cannot be released anywhere where wild ones are so the more information we have on the wild ones as well as the captured ones will help us in releasing spider monkeys in the future.”

Besides the information DNA provides, other elements in feces like hormones or parasites can be examined. The use of non-invasive techniques to extract DNA has allowed primatologists to recently carry out studies of genetic variation, gene flow, and paternity, among other, in populations of primates in the wild and at the Wildtracks rehab center in Sarteneja.

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