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Book review The Forensic Anthropology Laboratory.

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Book Reviews
COMMUNITY. Edited by W. Scott McGraw, Klaus
Zuberbühler and Ronald Zoë. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press. 2007. 328 pp. ISBN 978-0-521-81633-5.
$137.00 (hardcover).
Compared with primates of the African woodlandsavanna, relatively less is known of the behavioral ecology of forest-dwelling primates. Moreover, there are only
a handful of research projects in the African forest zone
that have attempted to understand the ecology of an
entire primate community. The Taı̈ Monkey Project
(TMP) was founded in 1989 in Taı̈ National Park, Côte
d’Ivoire, to examine the influence of chimpanzee predation on red colobus behavior. However, research activity
has significantly expanded since the project’s inception,
and Monkeys of the Taı̈ Forest gathers and summarizes
results from some 15 years of multidisciplinary research
on each of the eight monkey species, offering a rare comparative study of a diverse and unique forest-dwelling
primate community.
The first chapter introduces the reader to Taı̈ National
Park, provides an overview of the natural history of each
of the monkey species and describes the history of the
TMP. This background, however, omits a necessary
description of the size of the TMP study area and its
location relative to other Taı̈ research sites referred to in
the book. After the introductory chapter, the volume is
divided into four parts dealing with social behavior, antipredator strategies, habitat use, and conservation.
Accompanying the text are 32 close-up, stunning, color
photographs of the Taı̈ monkeys, which allow the reader
to reflect on the research presented and imagine how
these monkeys live.
The three chapters on social behavior offer great
insight into the social systems of forest-dwelling primates. Chapter 2 (Buzzard and Eckardt) describes population density, group size and composition, and social
interactions within and between groups for each of the
four species of Cercopithecus. Results indicate that the
social system of Cercopithecus diana ‘‘may deviate from
other guenons’’ (p 65) due to higher rates of agonistic
interactions among group members of this species. In
Chapter 3 (Korstjens et al.), diet is used to explain
subtle differences between the social systems of the
three folivorous colobines. For example, because blackand-white colobus monkeys consume more contestable
food items (e.g., seeds) than the other colobine species,
they have higher levels of agonistic and affiliative interactions within groups, and females are less inclined to
disperse from their natal group. The social system of the
sooty mangabey is explored in Chapter 4 (Range et al.),
which describes the dynamics of social dominance relationships within a single mangabey group. These three
chapters could be incorporated in courses on primate
behavior and ecology as they rely heavily on socioecological theory and describe the social systems of a relatively
understudied group of primates.
C 2009
Part II of this volume examines how the behavior of
Taı̈ monkeys has been shaped by each of three predators:
the leopard (Chapter 5), chimpanzee (Chapter 6), and
crowned eagle (Chapter 7). Chapter 8 explores the function, production, and perception of monkey alarm calls,
supplementing the study of primate alarm-calling behavior with findings from monkeys of the Taı̈ forest. The
research described in these chapters relies on innovative,
experimental techniques that ultimately enhance our
understanding of primate communication and cognition.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this book, however, is the study of the crowned eagle and leopard hunting behaviors, which is based on monitoring individuals
who have been fitted with radio transmitters to directly
observe the predator and to record daily activity and
movement patterns. Although predation rates on primates by crowned eagles are relatively low, Zuberbühler
and Jenny (Chapter 5) describe high rates of leopard
predation on monkeys. However, because only one
instance of a successful attack was observed (on the
semiterrestrial Cercocebus atys), predation rate was estimated by analyzing leopard fecal material, with the
assumption that each fecal sample correspond to one
predation event. An alternative hypothesis that is not
considered, however, is that leopards often scavenge on
dead monkeys, especially red colobus, which are known
to frequently fall during leaps in the main canopy.
The third part of the volume, habitat use, contains
only one chapter. It is impressive, however, because it
provides a rare look into the positional behavior, habitat
use, and activity budgets of an entire monkey community. Researchers studying primate ecology, anatomy,
and locomotion will find this chapter particularly intriguing. The final part of this volume contains two
chapters that explore how human hunting might influence primate behavior (Chapter 10) and how vulnerability to human activities varies among the Taı̈ monkeys
(Chapter 11). To examine whether behavioral observations of monkeys can be used as indicators of hunting
pressure, Koné and Refisch (Chapter 10) compare monkey behavior in ‘‘poached’’ and ‘‘non-poached’’ areas.
Aside from this simple dichotomy, however, they do not
present data on finer-scale variation in hunting intensity
between different areas of their study site and, therefore, cannot assess how degree of hunting pressure influences primate behavioral responses to the presence of
humans. In other words, how intense does hunting need
to be to alter the behavior of monkeys?
McGraw (Chapter 11) concludes this volume with a salient chapter that reviews the human threats to Taı̈
National Park, identifies the Taı̈ monkey species most at
risk of extirpation, and discusses the biological correlates
of vulnerability. Consistent with several studies in other
African forests, the primate species that are at the highest risk of local extinction require high canopy forest, exhibit maladaptive anti-(human) predator behaviors, or
are terrestrial. As in other forests, the red colobus monkey sits atop this inauspicious list.
Among the most important conclusions that can be
drawn from this volume are that long-term research at a
single site is essential if we are to fully appreciate the
variation that exists between species; that behavioral
and conservation research must be fully integrated; and
that the continuous presence of researchers is vital to
any conservation strategy. This volume pulls together
invaluable references that inform all aspects of primate
biology, and I urge readers to seek out these primary
sources to more deeply examine how this colorful community of monkeys compares with other primate communities. Hopefully, Monkeys of the Taı̈ Forest will encourage others to establish research sites that explore
and protect biological diversity.
Warren, Heather A. Walsh-Haney, and Laurel E.
FreasBoca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 2008. 221 pp. ISBN
978-0-8493-2320-1. $119.95 (hardcover).
In the last couple of decades, the practice and theoretical framework of forensic anthropology have experienced unprecedented diversification and achieved a
high water mark in public and prospective student interest. Within this framework, this volume represents
a needed and valuable attempt to present students and
professionals with ‘‘a survey of the various types of laboratories that [currently] support the practice of forensic anthropology’’ (p ix). The editors serve this objective
by compiling a series of articles that briefly describe
the inner workings of a number of laboratories and
cover the wide spectrum of current forensic anthropology practice (sensu lato) in different settings and from
various perspectives.
Although not organized as such in the volume, the
laboratories described can be roughly classified into
five major categories: academic (four chapters), museum setting (two), military (one), medical examiner’s
office (one), and the disaster morgue (one). The large
number of chapters devoted to the academic venue is
justified by the different approaches taken by the
authors. The Forensic Anthropology Center of the University of Tennessee (UT) serves as an example of a
research facility linked to a well established and longrunning doctoral program (Jantz and Jantz). Particular
attention is paid to the functioning of the UT donation
program, an important part of the infamous renowned
‘‘Body Farm,’’ and the forensic taphonomy research
conducted there. The description of the University of
Indianapolis’s laboratory illustrates the perspective of
a master’s-level program. Nawrocki provides a comprehensive account of the ‘‘operating procedures and philosophy’’ of an academic-based laboratory, in which
graduate students take an active part in all aspects of
case investigations. Manhein et al. focus more narrowly on the facial reconstruction and age-progression
capabilities of the Louisiana State University laboratories, whereas Walsh-Haney et al. tie up the academic
perspective with an overview of the ideal, working forensic anthropology laboratory, largely based on their
experience at the University of Florida.
The academic settings contrast with Holland et al.’s
description of the United States Department of Defense’s
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) Central
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Department of Sociology
and Anthropology
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia
DOI 10.1002/ajpa.21074
Published online 21 August 2009 in Wiley InterScience
Identification Laboratory. This large-scale, military-run
facility is primarily oriented toward the recovery and
identification of United States military casualties of past
wars. It is also the only forensic anthropology facility
accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory
Directors. Austin and Fulginiti describe the diverse,
open-ended range of activities conducted by lone, fulltime forensic anthropologists operating in a sea of forensic pathologists in a medical examiner’s office. Particularly interesting is the description of their important collaborative efforts with law enforcement during field
Two chapters focus on laboratories in well-established museum settings. Jones and Ousley discuss the
workings of the Repatriation Office of the Smithsonian
Institution and provide a useful guideline to comprehensive procedures and standards for the description
and inventory of human skeletal remains, which are
directly applicable to forensic cases. Hunt describes
the history of the Smithsonian’s Anthropology Division, paying special attention to its historical involvement in forensic investigations. Finally, Sledzik and
Kauffman provide a general description of the ephemeral mass-fatality morgue. These temporary facilities
focus on the description and cataloguing of the often
fragmented human remains and, to a lesser extent
because of rapid advances in DNA analysis, on personal identification.
It could be argued that the brevity of the book (just
over 200 pages) is one of its main strengths. The reader
can get a glimpse of the variety of activities and contrasting perspectives of modern forensic anthropology laboratories. This overview effectively covers the main variety of
these facilities in the United States with a clarity that
might have been difficult to achieve in a lengthier volume
and in a more exhaustive laboratory inventory. In this
sense, the volume might be especially useful for the students investigating potential work venues or trying to get
acquainted with the practice of the profession.
However, this brevity also imposes some restrictions
on the level of discussion and detail. Professionals looking for insight on how to set up a new laboratory or for
a discussion of best practices for currently running laboratories might be disappointed. Inclusion of elements
like blueprints and schemes of laboratory settings,
more detailed descriptions of processes such as laboratory accreditation or some examples of the forensic
reports produced and presented in court would have
resulted in a more technical volume. The reduced
length of the chapters imposes a focus more on the
activities carried out at the laboratories (especially
those related to chain-of-custody issues) than on their
inner workings. The black-and-white and, too often,
nonillustrative figures do not help, either, to portray
laboratory settings in detail.
Still, it would be a gross error to dismiss the volume
for this reason. The main value of the tome, to this
author, lies in the discussions to be derived from the
different and often opposing perspectives presented in
the articles regarding key topics such as laboratory accreditation, best practices, and student involvement in
case work. Just to mention a few examples, Nawrocki
condemns week-long training courses largely oriented
to law enforcement (p 79–80), whereas Jantz and Jantz
present these courses as one of the achievements of the
UT program (p 19). The strict protocols and practices
described by Nawrocki and Walsh-Haney et al. contrast
interestingly with the opinion of Holland et al. that
academic-based laboratories generally lack standard
protocols (p 58–59). Holland et al.’s emphasis on peer
review of results and redundancy in quality control
(p 57 and 60) contrasts starkly with the model,
described by Austin and Fulginiti, of the lone anthro-
pologist operating under a tight schedule in a medical
examiner’s office. The frequent invocations of Daubert
throughout the text cast an interesting shadow over
the age-progression methods presented by Manhein
et al.
All of these contrasting opinions are well founded and
worthy of serious discussion. In this sense, the present
volume represents much more than a mere description
of a collection of facilities; it is a stimulating springboard
for debate of differing views of forensic anthropology
stemming from contrasting experiences in its everyday,
successful practice.
Department of Applied Forensic Sciences
Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute
Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA
DOI 10.1002/ajpa.21093
Published online 21 August 2009 in Wiley InterScience
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
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