American Journal of Primatology 1261-263 (1981) EDITORIAL Breadth and Balance in Primatology J. ERWIN, EDITOR American Journal of Primatology According to its broadest definition, primatology may include the entire range of scientific study involving primates. I favor a broad definition of the field with regard to the scope of the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY; yet, there is a clear need to examine the balance of primatological research, and to evaluate the relative current contributions to primatology from various disciplines. There are several approaches to the assessment of balance within the broad interdisciplinary field of primatology. Each method depends to some extent on the definition of primatology, including historical concerns, current status, and consideration of future directions. Some of the questions regarding these matters are briefly addressed here. Funk & Wagnalls on Primatology Imagine my surprise when Nancy recently pointed out to me that one of our dictionaries included a definition of primatology. According t o Funk and Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary (1970), the following definition applies: “Pri.ma.tol.o.gy pri‘ma.tol’a.jE) n. The study of the origin, structure, evolution, and classification of primates. - pri’.ma-tol’o.gist n.” That’s probably not a bad definition, although many of us believe our field includes much more than Funk and Wagnalls suggests. Surely modern primatology is not limited to anatomy, phylogeny, and systematics (although the value of these disciplines should not be diminished). Because the literature in primatology has doubled and redoubled since that dictionary was published, it is not too surprising that the definition doesn’t fit the current content of the field too well. Of course, we primatologists reserve the right to expand or define the content of our field as we choose. Funk and Wagnalls can only supply definitions after the fact. A more direct and empirical method of assessing the current scope of primatology can result from examination of professional activity. The Empirical Definition There are two primary indicators of scientific activity, publication of research reports in journals and presentation of papers and symposia at meetings of professional/scientific societies. For primatology, the international bibliographic source, CURRENT PRIMATE REFERENCES, allows examination of virtually all scientific work with primates published around the world. This can provide the basis for a review of the balance of primatology defined in its broadest sense. Some details will be presented below. The second primary indicator of scientific activity in primatology is presentation of papers at meetings. Such papers are not ordinarily listed in bibliographic services unless the proceedings are published. Consequently, it is difficult to obtain a comprehensive indication of activity from any single source. We can, however, obtain what may be a more precise picture of the field than is otherwise available by examining the 0275-256518110103-0261$01.500 1981 Alan R. Liss, Inc. 262 Erwin proceedings of meetings devoted specifically to primatology. The proceedings of the Fourth Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists, held in San Antonio, Texas, June 2-5, 1981, are included in this issue of the journal. The vitality, as well as the current emphases of primatology, are apparent in these proceedings. I have analyzed the contents of CURRENT PRIMATE REFERENCES for 1980 to provide an indication of current topical balance in work done with primates. The results are included in Table One. It is quite clear that research in the neurosciences currently overshadows work with primates on any other topic, at least in sheer quantity. In addition, perusal of references t o work done on primate nervous systems reveals that much of this work is of significance for basic primatology and other related disciplines. Because of the volume of specialized work in this field, there is a serious need for integrative reviews to synthesize and summarize existing knowledge. The AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY seeks such reviews in the neurosciences, as well as in other fields. Pharmacology/therapeutics and behavior were also very active research areas. Together with the neurosciences, pharmacological and behavioral studies comprised about one third of all research referenced in CURRENT PRIMATE REFERENCES during 1980. Much of the pharmacological work involved use of nonhuman primates to clarify metabolic pathways or action sites of drugs. While these studies are of considerable value in assessing potential drug action for humans, many of them are not of direct concern to primatologists due to the synthetic nature of the chemicals involved. There are, however, important connections between this work and some being done in the neurosciences, endocrinology, nutrition, and other fields. Primate behavior is generally regarded as one of the fundamental areas of primatology. Perhaps it is surprising to others (as it is to me) that less than 10% of the papers TABLE I. The Top Twenty Areas in Primatology Based on Number of Publications Referenced in CURRENT PRIMATE REFERENCES during 1980. N 1. NERVOUS SYSTEM 2. PHARMACOLOGYiTHERAPEUTICS 3. BEHAVIOR 4. DENTALiORAL STRUCTURES 5. ENDOCRINOLOGY 6. CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM 7. REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM 8. TOXICOLOGYIENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH 9. GENERAL PRIMATOLOGY 10. METABOLISM & NUTRITION 11. EYE (NON-NEURAL) 12. VIRAL INFECTIONS 13. MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM 14. ECOLOGY & CONSERVATION 15. PARASITIC INFESTATION 16. LEARNING & PERCEPTION 17. GENETICS 18. DIGESTIVE SYSTEM 19. BLOOD & BODY FLUIDS 20. IMMUNOLOGY ALL OTHER TOPICS TOTAL 511 372 349 199 188 182 175 155 153 128 122 108 104 91 89 81 79 72 64 62 525 3809 % of Total 13.4% 9.8% 9.2% 5.2% 4.9% 4.8% 4.6% 4.1% 4.0% 3.4% 3.2% 2.8% 2.7% 2.4% 2.3% 2.1% 2.1% 1.9% 1.7% 1.6% 13.8% 100.0% Editorial 263 referenced dealt directly with primate behavior. Of these behavioral studies, less than one in four was conducted in natural or freeranging settings. Thus, field studies of primate behavior represented less than 2% of all studies reported on nonhuman primates. I have been seeking manuscripts for publication in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY that deal with field studies and conservation of wild primate populations. Now I’m beginning to understand why it is so difficult to find such manuscripts. This lack of naturalistic studies is not a desirable state, and it provides an example of a discrepancy between the empirical balance of primatology and an ideal balance. Because these field studies are of such great importance to basic primatology, I will continue to encourage submission of high quality manuscripts reporting field studies of primates. I want t o acknowledge the valuable assistance of Dr. Anthony M. Coelho, Jr., in preparing the abstracts of the presentations given a t the Fourth Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists. Dr. Coelho and his assistants did a marvelous job of arranging and managing the 1981 meeting. Dr. Coelho was assisted on the Program Committee by the following individuals: Ms. J o Fritz, Dr. Ken Green, Ms. Dorothy Reese, Dr. Ramon Rhine, Dr. Meredith Small, and Dr. Walter Rogers; they must be congratulated for presenting an excellent program.