Testing parallel laser image scaling for remotely measuring body dimensions on mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata)

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Body size is a fundamental variable for many studies in primate biology. However, obtaining body dimensions of wild primates through live capture is difficult and costly, so developing an alternative inexpensive and non-invasive method is crucial. Parallel laser image scaling for remotely measuring body size has been used with some success in marine and terrestrial animals, but only one arboreal primate. We further tested the efficacy of this method on the arboreal mantled howling monkey (Alouatta palliata) in La Pacifica, Costa Rica. We calculated interobserver error, as well as the method's repeatability when measuring the same animal on different occasions. We also compared measurements obtained physically through live capture with measurements obtained remotely using parallel laser image scaling. Our results show that the different types of error for the remote technique are minimal and comparable with the error rates observed in physical methods, with the exception of some dimensions that vary depending on the animals' posture. We conclude that parallel laser image scaling can be used to remotely obtain body dimensions if careful consideration is given to factors such as species-specific morphology and postural habits.

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