PAPER ASSIGNMENT GENERAL OVERVIEW
A project consisting of research at a zoo and some fact-finding is worth 220 points (up to 200 points for the content plus 20 points for turning it in early as described in the syllabus). The end result will be a 2,000-word paper describing the results of your investigation. Although the emphasis will be the description of the research conducted, credit will be given (and taken away) for style and grammar.
This paper includes research conducted at a zoo. The purpose of this part of the project is to familiarize you with how primate research is done. In order to complete the task, you will have to go to a zoo (the Los Angeles zoo is great, but others are fine as well).
During some semesters, a class trip to the zoo is scheduled about a third of the way through the semester. See the class website for the exact date. Email announcements will go out to remind you of the date and time. The zoo trip starts with a brief tour (about 60 minutes long) intended to familiarize you with the primates at the zoo. Recommendations are made as to which animals are the best to observe. Going with the class is beneficial because if you have any questions about what you should do at the zoo, they can be easily answered. Note that attending the class zoo trip is optional. You can go to a zoo at another time.
Start your paper by choosing two different primate species to observe for fifty minutes each. I suggest you choose primates from different groups (such as an ape and a monkey), although any two species will be fine. You will be observing how each allocates his or her time. Be sure to bring a timing device and a pad of paper. Choose one animal from each species. Then every minute, determine what that animal is doing. This will be recorded on your Time Allocation Sheet. Feel free to use the one provided via download. You should bring two copies since you should use one time sheet per animal observed. For each species, you will have allocated 50 tasks (1 task per minute x 50 minutes). Examples of possible behaviors include eating, sleeping, grooming, aggression, communicating, playing, etc. You can also keep track of the number of other primates that are near your target animal to measure how social your subjects are.
Once you have completed the zoo research, you will need to do some fact-finding about the primates you observed. You may be able to find a great deal of information on primates on the Internet. You can also go to a library to find information, where the best place to start will probably be one of the many encyclopedias available. Find out where the primates observed live, their group size, types of food eaten, their population status (whether or not they are endangered), and any other information you deem relevant about the species. This should be done for both species.
When you have collected all of your information, begin writing the paper. A model paper and a sample of a student’s work are included below. Your paper should include several elements. There should be a brief introduction. The main body of your project will include a description of your observations and your fact-finding. Make sure you integrate your time
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allocation percentages, instead of just sticking them in at the end of your descriptions. Once you have described both species, you should compare and contrast their behaviors. Finally, include some thoughts about how you felt about doing the zoo observations, the fact-finding, and the project as a whole. You must include reference citations and a bibliography. The samples below will show you how to do this.
The key difference between poor papers and very good papers is how well the various components are integrated. Students who put the fact-finding and the zoo observations in separate sections and who make little or no reference to their time allocations will not do so well. Those who merge the discovered facts in with what they saw at the zoo along with the calculated behavioral percentages will do much better. Again, you must weave the zoo observations in with the facts you found about each primate. This is a critical component of the paper.
Your paper should be 2,000 words long. The due date for the paper is specified on the class website. You will lose points for turning in the paper late. See the “Read Me First” (syllabus) file for more information. You will receive an “F” for the entire class if you do not turn in the course project by the specified due date. Turn in the paper through the link in the Assignments area in Blackboard. Make sure you follow the instructions for submission.
The written part of the paper is worth 200 points. You can earn up to 20 additional points just for turning in the paper early. Details are provided in the syllabus. One final note is that you can get your paper pre-graded. If you turn in your paper by the deadline specified in the syllabus, I will read it, make suggestions, and assign a grade. You can then revise your paper and turn it back in for an improved score.
PLAGIARISM / REFERENCING THE OUTSIDE SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Plagiarism is using another person’s ideas without acknowledging them. There is nothing wrong with using outside information. This is actually necessary for you to complete your paper. The only step you need to take is to indicate where you obtained the information. You need to do this both within the body of your paper and within a bibliography.
Within the body of the paper, you should provide references to outside information as shown in the example papers. If the information comes directly from the source, you must use quotation marks. Changing a word here or there will not suffice. There is nothing wrong with using direct quotes, however, try to avoid a lot of lengthy ones in your paper.
You should include a bibliography as well. Using MLA style or any other is fine so long as you are consistent and include all of the relevant information about your source. There are some great resources available online to help with citations. For example, you can use www.easybib.com, a website that will automatically generate citations for you.
Do not use information from another student’s paper. This is plagiarism and will be met with harsh penalties. These can include a failing grade for the class and being reported to the school for academic dishonesty. This kind of cheating will not be taken lightly.
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Do the Time Allocation –To calculate the percentages, simply count the number of times out of the fifty minutes that you observed a particular behavior and multiply that number by two. For example, if a primate was playing for fourteen out of fifty observations, the animal spent twenty–eight percent of the time playing. Do not guess or estimate the time percentages. Instead, provide exact numbers based upon your observations.
Start Early – Human nature often leads people to procrastinate. Getting caught the night before the assignment is due trying to put the paper together at the last minute is a poor strategy for getting a good grade. The earlier you start, the better you will probably do.
Grammar Matters – One of the most significant factors leading to reduced grades is when there are typos and spelling errors in a paper. This often shows that the paper was put together in a rush. Read your paper once before turning in the final product. Having a friend read your paper is a good idea as he or she will be more likely to catch errors.
The plural of the word “species” is “species”. You would never say, “I observed that the baboon specie…”. Also, species names are typically not capitalized unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.
There are a couple of suggestions that might make your grammar better. First, avoid semicolons since students often misuse them. Also, do not rely to heavily on a thesaurus. Often words are used improperly, making students look like they do not know what they are talking about, not making them look smarter. Another point is that college-level work should not (not shouldn’t) contain contraction (“was not” instead of “wasn’t”).
Monkeys, Apes, and Prosimians – Make sure that you reference your primates properly. Chimps, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, and siamangs are apes. Lemurs and sifakas are prosimians. Referring to an ape or a prosimian as a monkey shows you were not paying attention to the course material AND WILL RESULT IN LOWERED PAPER SCORES!
Save Your Paper – You should make a computer backup of your paper.
Choose a single animal from each species and observe it for 50 minutes. Do not base your allocations on the group as a whole.
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TIME ALLOCATION WORKSHEET
Use the worksheet below to calculate the time allocations from your primate observations.
Sleep / Rest Eat Aggression Mate Grooming Other
T otal CHECKLIST
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
__actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=100%
__actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=___% __actsx2=100%
I read the “Helpful Hints” for this part of the paper included above.
I calculated the time spent for each activity using the worksheet above. I incorporated these exact allocation times into my paper.
I provided a general introduction to my paper.
I described the two primates’ enclosures and described their behaviors. I wove in my outside facts into the zoo descriptions.
I included references to my sources within the body of my paper.
I used quotation marks when using information directly from sources. I compared the behaviors of the two primates in my paper.
I did not refer to any apes or prosimians as “monkeys”.
I included some thoughts about the project into my paper.
I included all sources cited in a bibliography.
I performed a spell-check on my paper.
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Below is I.
II. III. IV. V.
There are three major elements of this part of the paper:
The description of the behavior of two primates including time allocations from
the first part of your paper;
The integration of relevant facts discovered through your review of library and
Internet sources; and
A comparison of the species observed behaviors and comments about what you
thought about the project (at least a paragraph each).
There are also several minor elements:
A brief introduction;
References in your paper to your sources of information; and
A bibliography including the sources you cited in the paper.
Below is a rough guide for the level of work expected to obtain various grades. Generally all of the elements in a particular group must be present to obtain the given grade. For example, a student who does a good job with all components, but completely separates the zoo observations from the outside facts would fall in the 130-point range since he or she would have “poor integration of the relevant facts.”
a recommended structure of your paper:
Introduction (1 paragraph)
Description of first primate with facts and times integrated (2 – 3 pages) Description of second primate with facts and times integrated (2 – 3 pages) Behavioral comparison (1 – 2 paragraphs)
Your thoughts about the project (1 – 2 paragraphs)
• A systematic integration of relevant facts discovered • Complete incorporation of all minor elements
• Moderate level of integration of facts discovered • Very good integration of all minor elements
• Incomplete integration of relevant facts discovered • One or more missing minor elements
130 Points or lower
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Note: This excerpt was written by the instructor to provide an example of elements of a very good student paper.
Last Thursday, I went to the Los Angeles Zoo for the purposes of observing two primate species. I arrived at around eleven in the morning and decided to start my observations immediately since the day was rather warm and the sun was already getting hot. My first stop was at the chimpanzee exhibit. The enclosure, built in 1998, was quite impressive and probably covered several acres. There were about fifteen chimpanzees in the exhibit, a number that seemed appropriate since Wise has noted that chimps often sit together in large groups. A waterfall was placed in the middle of the exhibit. The chimpanzees appeared to like this feature since many sat near the cascading water, probably to keep cool. This was confirmed by a sign at the exhibit which noted that chimpanzees sometimes will stay near streams in the wild in order to keep their body temperatures down.
I decided to observe a large male chimp who I named Bill for the purposes of this description. I chose this individual since he was sitting near the glass display and I could get rather close to him initially. My superior vantage point did not last long (only about 4 minutes, or 8% of the observation period) because soon after I arrived the zookeepers put some fruit out, a resource that is part of a typical chimpanzee diet (Galishoff). Other foods eaten by chimpanzees include leaves, herbs, honey, and some animal prey (Kaufman and Lodgen), but I did not witness them eating any of these items.
The zookeepers’ actions of providing fruit resulted in some aggressive encounters between Bill and several other chimps. Although relatively rare, aggression is observed in chimpanzee groups (Social Dominance in Apes), which conforms to my observation that the aggression only lasted as long as the fruit, about four minutes in duration. “Social interactions between chimpanzee males can be described by the terms dominance and submission” (Rowe 185), and Bill certainly appeared to be the dominant individual in most of the bouts of aggression I observed. Of the time spent observing the chimps, aggression accounted for 12% of their time in total. After that, Bill spent some time grooming a smaller male chimp. Perhaps this was a form of reassurance that follows aggressive encounters, something that Rowe describes as typical. However, Bill had never been aggressive to the smaller male chimp that he was grooming, so perhaps there was another reason for this action.
The grooming that followed the aggression and a second bout later in the observation resulted in 14% of Bill’s time being spent grooming….
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Notice that these two pieces of information are not facts that one would typically know. Since they came from an exhibit and one of the authors, references are needed. Simply stating the author’s name (Wise) is acceptable.
Y ou should weave together your zoo observations with your outside fact-finding. Do not separate the two types of information. Also, notice this alternative style of reference that uses the parentheses with the author(s) names.
In these source citations, other forms were used. One contains a reference to a website which has no author named. In the others, quotes were used for some information. This was done because the information was copied directly from the source. There is nothing wrong with this practice. This is not plagiarism since the source was cited. Notice that the page number is included when a direct quote is used.
PAPER – STUDENT SAMPLE
Note: This sample, written by a student, is intended to provide an excellent paper. Notice how well the zoo facts are integrated with the outside facts along with the time allocations. The paper may have gone a little overboard with the level of detail of outside information, but overall the effort is outstanding.
I spent a beautiful Monday afternoon at the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. The twenty-one acre zoo houses a collection of 17 different species of primates, including such species as the black- handed spider monkey, the golden lion tamarin, and the pygmy marmoset, among others. Five different endangered species also dwell in the Santa Ana Zoo. For my course project, I carefully evaluated my choices, and settled upon two endangered species: an ape, the white-handed gibbon, and a prosimian, the ring-tailed lemur.
White-handed gibbon, hylobates lar
The zookeeper at the Santa Ana Zoo was quick to let me know that their white-handed gibbon, Princess, is the smartest animal in their zoo, so I was eager to observe this intelligent species. The white-handed gibbon, like the gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan, is an ape, not a monkey. In fact, this particular gibbon is the smallest primate in the ape family. Adult males weigh 10 to 20 pounds; females are slightly smaller in size. The chief characteristics that distinguish apes from monkeys are the absence of a tail, the more upright posture, and the high development of the brain (Boyd and Silk).
Hence the name of the primate, the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet are white in color. Their face is bare, as are the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet. Their fur is extremely dense, providing protection from rain. One square centimeter of skin has over 2,000 individual hairs (Swindler). Princess spent some 4% of her time, approximately two minutes, grooming her dense fur coat and licking her fur. She is black, but the white-handed gibbons come in two color forms, blond and black.
Interestingly enough, the white-handed gibbon is the most active of all gibbons. They move faster, more quietly, and farther each day than any other forest apes of monkeys. The animal’s long arms and hook-like fingers contribute to its ability to swing through trees, a method of transportation known as brachiation. By swinging from branch to branch, these gibbons are able to change direction in flight and to catch a handhold in case they fall. The white-handed gibbon can easily leap a gap of 30 feet between one tree and another, but because they cannot swim, they avoid crossing open water. Adaptations include precision of movement, incredible eye-hand coordination, and dexterity (MacDonald). Princess’s approximately 10 foot by 10 foot exhibition housed a complex network of branches, ropes, tree stubs and floral on which she brachiated and played. In fact, Princess spent a good 44% of the time brachiating and playing in the ropes and branches in her exhibition. An explanation for this prevalent behavior lies in the fact that brachiation is her method of transportation; in order to move, she must brachiate. The white- handed gibbon is an arboreal primate; it can be found in the upper canopy of the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Burma. In fact, the word “hylobates” in the name means “dweller in the trees.”
One of the most interesting features of this primate is that the white-handed gibbon begins each morning with a whopping and piercing morning “song” which marks its territory. The white- handed gibbon is vigorously territorial, spending up to one half hour each morning calling, displaying, and marking its territory. Flannery mentions that the function of calling is territorial,
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but the call also serves to reinforce the pair bond. Although the female begins the “duet”, the male responds, exchanging “songs” and responding to each other’s calls. Although I did not attend the zoo early enough to hear Princess’s call, the zookeeper assured me that Princess began each fresh morning with a loud and booming song.
The white-handed gibbon is a monogamous species that forms small groups consisting of one mated pair and their offspring; sometimes they live in family troops of 10 or more members within a 30-100 acre territory (Nowak). There is almost no sexual dimorphism, and males are not socially or physically dominant over females. The white-handed gibbon has no fixed season for breeding; the gestation period lasts around seven months, and infants are weaned within a two- year period. The young clings to the mother night and day, and at six months, it begins to brachiate on its own. When the animal reaches sexual maturity in 6 to 10 years, it meets other gibbons in common feeding groups, where after courtship, new family groups are formed. Princess, the white-handed gibbon at the Santa Ana Zoo, had a mate, but unfortunately, the male gibbon passed away only a month ago, leaving Princess depressed, morose and inactive. The death certainly took its toll on Princess, for she spent well over 21 minutes merely resting and sleeping, spending a staggering 42% of her time idol. She did not engage any time playing with her mate or being aggressive, for she was the only creature in her exhibition.
Living in the upper canopy of tropical rainforests, the white-handed gibbon feeds predominantly on ripe fruits, although they also eat leaves, young plant shoots, flowers, small insects, and birds. Their zoo diet consists of fruit and plants; Princess, in the 10% of the time that she spent eating, ate figs (a favorite food) and various plants and leaves.
The white-handed gibbon is considered an endangered species, and is drastically declining in numbers for various reasons. As man enters its forested territory, he often “kills the mothers in capturing the young for a lucrative pet market” (MacDonald). In many Asian countries, it is “fashionable” to own a primate; this fad has led to the death of many gibbons (Nowak). In some areas, these primates are hunted for meat. However, the greatest threat to the white-handed gibbon is deforestation. Rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate due to agricultural development, leaving these species with an even small region in which to live. White-handed gibbons retain only 10% of their original habitat in protected reserves (MacDonald).
Ring-tailed lemur, lemur catta
The Santa Ana Zoo houses a complete exhibition of ring-tailed lemurs, which includes seven of these animals. I was first drawn to these animals by their beautifully-colored rings on their tails, hence the name, ‘ring-tailed lemur’. The word ‘lemur’ actually means ‘ghost’ in Madagascar, a word fitting for those mysteriously-looking creatures. I choose a specific lemur, whom I will call Spot, that spent a lot of his time away from the other lemurs; I observed this particular creature.
Unlike the white-handed gibbon, Spot and his family and friends lived in a huge exhibition that was equipped with numerous branches, logs, trees, and even a full waterfall with rocks. Later, I learned that true lemurs do not swim well and seldom enter water, so the presence of a waterfall was a bit uncanny. Many of the lemurs hung out in pairs or small groups, so it was odd for Spot to be alone. In fact, the ring-tailed lemurs are very sociable, living in large groups of up to 25 animals, with females dominant to males. Female dominance is unique to prosimians (Boyd and Silk). In these groups, ring-tailed lemurs have distinct hierarchies that are enforced by frequent and aggressive confrontations among members. During the times when Spot hung out with his family and friends, he spent 11 minutes or 22% of the time engaging in physical aggression with other lemurs. For 14 minutes or 28% of his time, Spot played by himself. Among those 13
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minutes, six minutes were spent playing with his ringed tail, and seven minutes were spent climbing the gates of the exhibition.
Most lemurs are the size of a house cat, weighing about 6 to 8 pounds. Many ring-tailed lemurs are white-faced, black-eyed, and short-necked. They also have black, pointed muzzles, which is typical among the various species of lemur. The majority of their fur is a soft, light gray color, with variations in hue. The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is their ringed-tails, which are striped with 13 alternating blank and white bands, giving this lemur its common name.
While observing the ring-tailed lemurs at the Santa Ana Zoo, I noticed that Spot groomed himself in a strikingly unique way. Spending nearly 8% of the time grooming, Spot, as well as all prosimians, have six lower teeth that stick straight out from their jaw. These teeth form a sort of tooth comb that the animals use to groom their fur, as well as the fur of other members of their social group.
Ring-tailed lemurs are found solely on the island of Madagascar, an island off of southeast Africa. They live in arid and open areas and forests; they spend about 40% of their time on the ground. They typically walk on the ground or climb on large limbs in the trees. This preference differentiates them from other lemur species, which prefer forested areas and trees. I observed this phenomenon in the ring-railed lemur exhibition at the Santa Ana Zoo; the lemurs spent nearly equal amounts of time in the branches and leaves of the trees and on the ground. Spot, in particular, spent about 28% of his time merely walking, resting, and relaxing, both on the ground as well as in trees. I further divided this time into time on the ground and time in the trees: Spot spent approximately 12% of the time in trees and branches, and 16% of the time on the ground, on small logs, and on the rocks near the waterfall.
Ring-tailed females usually first give birth at three years of age, and produce offspring annually thereafter. The mating season is extremely seasonal, beginning in mid-April in the wild. The gestation period lasts about four months. Single infants are the common, but twins are a frequent sight in ringtail troops when food is plentiful. Initially, infants cling to their mothers’ bellies, but after three weeks, they will take their first steps away from their mothers. Over the next five months, infants will spend increasing amounts of time on their own—returning to mom only to nurse or sleep—until they are finally weaned after six months time. Interestingly enough, females remain in the same group for their entire lives, while males commonly change groups upon reaching sexual maturity. An average lifespan lasts for 20 to 25 years.
Ring-tails are the only true lemurs with ‘stink’ glands; they use their glandular secretions to mark their territory. The wet nose is associated with a keen sense of smell. Females have a large gland on the inside of each wrist, and males have one on each armpit. Male-to-male confrontations often involve stink-fights; they draw their tails through both armpits, smearing the scent throughout the fur (Anderson). Their tails are also used as flags, both for communication and protection. While observing these creatures, I never suspected any foul smell or scent, probably because there was no reason for competition or aggression, since all of the ring-tailed lemurs belonged to the same community.
Lemurs are primarily diurnal, avoiding activity only during the hottest parts of the day. They seek sunlight, especially in the morning, and sunbathe. However, although diurnal, lemurs have specialized night vision involving a reflective tapetum in the eyes’ retina. The eyes “glow” in dim light when the viewer sees the reflected light pass back out of the eye (Allaby).
The ring-tailed lemur’s diet consists mainly of fruits, leaves, flowers, plants, and small insects. In the middle of my 50-minute observation period, a zookeeper entered to feed these creatures.
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Upon placing some branches and leaves in the exhibition, the zookeeper left, and all of the ring- tailed lemurs flocked to the treasure; it was quite a sight to see. Spot spent approximately seven minutes, or 14% of his time eating foliage and leaves. Many times, he did this sitting in the cracks of the trees.
Ring-tailed lemurs are in danger in Madagascar mainly because of deforestation for the timber industry. Their lands are rapidly being “converted to farmland, overgrazed by livestock, and harvested for charcoal production” (Burnie). As a result, at least 14 lemur species have become extinct. Frequently enough, ring-tailed lemurs are hunted for food or kept as pets. Although ring- tails are found in several protected areas in southern Madagascar, the level of protection varies widely in areas. Ring-tailed lemurs breed very well in captivity; over 1000 can be found in various zoos around the world.
I did experience some slight difficulties while conducting this project, especially during the time allocations. What if the gibbon spent 15 seconds grooming, and then proceeded to spend 5 seconds brachiating, and finished his minute by eating a leaf? How was I to divide this time? I solved this problem by splitting each of my 50 minutes into 50 individual time slots; in each time slot (which was divided into seconds), I noted the percentage of time spent in that activity (15% grooming, 5% brachiating, 40% eating). Although this procedure entailed more writing, focus, and calculations, I found my recordings to be fairly accurate.
One of the most eye-opening and fascinating facts that I learned through conducting this study is the profound variation among various animals. Although the white-handed gibbon and the ring- tailed lemur are both primates, the two species have many differences—physically, socially, geographically and intellectually. Although both animals are rather small in size, the gibbon is a lesser ape, and thus possesses no tail. However, the ring-tailed lemur’s distinguishing feature is its beautifully-ringed tail. Furthermore, white-handed gibbons live in monogamous groups, whereas ring-tailed lemurs live in multi-male, multi-female groups. Despite the fact that both species live in tropical forests, the white-handed gibbon lives in Southeast Asia, while the ring- tailed lemur can be found only in Madagascar. In both these areas, both species are considered endangered; this study undoubtedly has given me a greater appreciation of each animal in its entirety for its unique characteristics and features.
Allaby, Michael, ed. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology. Oxford University Press: London. 1992.
Anderson, Rebecca. Lemur catta: narrative. 25 June 2003. <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/lemur/ l._catta$narrative.html>.
Boyd, Robert and Joan B. Silk. How Humans Evolved, 3rd ed. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York. 2003.
Burnie, David. Primate. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2003. 3 July 2003. <http://encarta.msn.com>.
Flannery, Sean. White-handed Gibbon (Hylobates lar). 3 July 2003. <http://www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/factsheets/hylobates_lar.html>.
MacDonald, David W. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Checkmark Books: Oxford. 1995. Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World, 6th ed, Vol I. Johns Hopkins University
Press: Baltimore. 1999.
Swindler, Ray Daris. Introduction to the Primates. University of Washington Press: Washington.
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