Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Lori K. Sheeran

Second Committee Member

Kara I. Gabriel

Third Committee Member

Clay Arango


When provisioned food is available, human-macaque coexistence may result in altered macaque behaviors and the possibility of bidirectional disease transmission through interspecies contact. Don Chao Poo forest in Thailand is a conservation site where ~ 1,000 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) live and interact with people, which includes being provisioned by volunteers and visitors. Phana macaques are habituated to human presence as a result of their frequent interactions with people. I tested whether 1) men and women are equally likely to have contact interactions with macaques, 2) adult and immature macaques are equally likely to have contact interactions with people, 3) macaques are equally likely to participate in direct provisioning, 4) men and women are equally likely to directly hand-provision macaques, and 5) macaques are likely to self-scratch more when there are more humans present and self-scratch less when there are fewer humans present. From June 1 to September 13, 2020, a field assistant made recordings of 903 human-macaque contact interactions, allowing observation of the number of people and macaques present in the frame, age/gender of humans, macaque age class, and the presence/absence of provisioned food. I observed the macaque behavior “self-scratching” as an indicator for stress. Our findings reveal that men and women are equally likely to provision the macaques, that macaques’ contacts are evenly distributed across human age/gender classes, and that immature macaques are more likely to have contact with people, X2 (1, N = 889) = 6.7, p < .0001. Macaques did not respond more aggressively toward men; a result contrary to reports at other sites and, perhaps, due to the long history of provisioning at this location, the fact that men and women provision, and visitors’ familiarity with the macaques. Immature macaques appeared to be more reactive than adults, possibly due to curiosity that characterizes immature monkeys. Additionally, the macaques did not exhibit more self-scratching when the number of humans increased or less self-scratching when the number of humans decreased. Overall, the current findings from this site are distinct from reports at other monkey forests, suggesting a need for more extensive study of the macaques at Don Chao Poo Forest due to COVID-19 and camera trap limitations.

Available for download on Monday, April 27, 2026