The (mis)use of the term ‘commensalism’ in primatology

Marechal, Laetitia and McKinney, Tracie (2020) The (mis)use of the term ‘commensalism’ in primatology. International Journal of Primatology, 41 (1). pp. 1-4. ISSN 0164-0291

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The (mis)use of the term ‘commensalism’ in primatology
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This commentary arose from a workshop entitled ‘What works, and what doesn’t work? The challenge of creating effective applied conservation research in human-modified habitats’, held during the joint meeting of the European Federation for Primatology and the Primate Society for Great Britain in Oxford, 2019. One discussion point highlighted the different use of terminology between disciplines as a challenge for effective multidisciplinary conservation research. Growing number of publications have drawn attention to the misuse of the terms such as human-wildlife conflict (Marshall et al. 2007, Peterson et al. 2010, Davidar 2018), crop-raiding (Hill 2017), or ecotourism (McKinney 2017). Here we widen this conversation by reflecting on an additional term regularly used in primatology: commensalism. Here, we will give the different definitions of the term ‘commensal’ used across disciplines and the implications of its misuse. We will then discuss whether this term can be used to categorise human-nonhuman primate (afterward primates) relationships, and conclude by proposing alternative terminology.

Keywords:Commensalism, Terminology, Primatology
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:40028
Deposited On:03 Feb 2020 10:48

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