Environmental Sciences | Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology


Cynthia L. Thompson


Studies of wild primates often use invasive procedures to obtain measures of primate body temperature, such as darting animals and implanting temperaturemonitoring devices through surgeries. If proven effective, a less invasive way to obtain body temperature measures of wild primates would be preferred in the future. In this study, we aimed to see if skin temperature measurements from thermal images obtained via infrared thermography were correlated with subcutaneous body temperature measurements obtained via implanted temperature monitoring devices. To test this, we collected data on wild mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata) in a tropical dry forest in Guanacaste, Costa Rica over a 12 day period. Our results suggest that weather conditions, such as air temperature, are a significant source of variation in thermal images of wild primates, making it difficult to obtain accurate measures of body temperature. We found that the impact of weather conditions is different depending on the location of the body where the temperature measurement is taken from, as measurements of the face of animals were much more impacted by air temperature compared to measures of the trunk. An increased understanding of the different sources of variation in temperature measurements from thermal images, as well as methods to control for these sources of variation, is critical to making the use of infrared thermography the preferred method in future studies of primates.