Book Review

2014 Folia primatologica  
Leaping Ahead is a volume of conference proceedings resulting from the Prosimians 2007 International Congress in Ithala Game Reserve, South Africa, as organised by the International Primatological Society and the South African Primatology Association. It is the fourth International Prosimian Conference since 1972. The volume contains 43 short scientific chapters on the following topics: systematics and evolution, general ecology, behavioural ecology, dietary ecology, physiological ecology,
more » ... ry ecology, communication and cognition, and conservation. The book is well edited and informative, and addresses theoretical issues actively being explored by prosimian biologists today. The book's first chapter by the editors gives a comprehensive classification of prosimian species, which is useful given the recent advances in prosimian taxonomy and the great species diversity they have revealed. The following chapters are mostly clear, concise and easy to digest, cover a range of general topics and, overall, present well-conducted and thorough research and informative reviews. Many chapters use a comparative approach and successfully place their results in perspective within general primate biology. New technologies such as isotopic variability for studying prosimian diet (chapter 20 by B.E. Crowley and L.R. Godfrey) or artificial neural networks for studying vocal communication (chapter 34 by L. Pozzi et al.) are described and either confirmed, or challenged and revised. This is an important asset as new technologies are, all too often, adopted without being subjected to comprehensive testing. The book's chapters are very short and of varying depth and insight. One might wonder if the simpler chapters are worth publishing. However, most chapters are presented in a clear and straightforward way. Although some of these chapters are rather descriptive or based on small sample sizes, their dissemination to the research community may help in refining hypotheses or help students to find interesting research topics or species (e.g. chapter 13 by K. Biebouw on the behavioural ecology of Allocebus trichotis ). Additionally, for students, short articles have the advantage of providing a quick overview on a variety of topics. Abstracts and conclusions summarise the contents nicely, and the introductions often give concise information on the current theoretical background. In contrast to the simple chapters, others deal with research based on huge sample sizes, such as chapter 23 by K.H. Dausmann with almost 5,000 sleeping sites of Cheirogaleus medius , and offer impressive analyses. Some authors may delve too deeply into the details of a very specific topic and thus lose relevance for a general audience. Finally, there are some nice review chapters, such as chapter 5, about temporal plasticity in lemurs by D.J. Curtis and G. Donati, or chapter 43 on conservation of Malagasy prosimians by J.H. Ratsimbazafy et al., who additionally are optimistic that, despite the critical situation for many prosimian species, not everything is gloom and doom, and they suggest that conservationists should have hope for the future. The foreword by Pierre Charles-Dominique emphasises the book's 'broad diversity'. Although 43 chapters will naturally cover a range of topics, diversity is however not the book's main strength. Thirteen chapters (>30%) focus on sensory ecology, communication and cognition alone. Four out of the 6 chapters on conservation are based in Berenty Reserve in Madagascar.
doi:10.1159/000356746 fatcat:4fwrfgnpmzcbha6uuap2uii4fi