Conserving social-ecological systems in Indonesia: Human-nonhuman primate interconnections in Bali and Sulawesi

Erin P. Riley, Agustín Fuentes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


An important question asked by primatologists and conservationists alike is: what is the relevance of primates and primate conservation for ecosystem conservation? The goal of this article is to contribute to this dialogue by advocating the use of a research perspective that focuses on the dynamics of human-nonhuman primate sympatry and interaction (i.e., ethnoprimatology) in order to better understand complex social-ecological systems and to inform their conservation management. This perspective/approach is based largely on the recognition that human primates are important components of all ecological systems and that niche construction is a fundamental feature of their adaptive success. To demonstrate the relevance of the human-nonhuman primate interface for ecosystem conservation, we provide examples from our research from two islands in the Indonesian archipelago: Bali and Sulawesi. In Bali, humans and long-tail macaques coexist in a system that creates favorable environments for the macaques. This anthropogenic landscape and the economic and ecological relationships between humans and monkeys on Bali provide insight into sustainable systems of human/nonhuman primate coexistence. In Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, villagers and Tonkean macaques overlap in their use of both forest and cultivated resources. The finding that the Arenga pinnata palm is extremely important for both villagers and macaques points to a conservation management recommendation that may help protect the overall ecosystem; the cultivation and propagation of mutually important tree species at forest-agricultural ecotone as a means to curb crop raiding and to alleviate farmer's perceived need to clear additional forest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Conservation management
  • Crop raiding
  • Disease transmission
  • Ethnoprimatology
  • Macaques
  • Niche construction


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