Having received my PhD from the Animal Behavior Graduate Group of the University of California-Davis, I returned to Argentina in 1996. Not unlike our other academic endeavors, my wife and I looked for a place where we could conduct our projects side by-side; myself working with owl monkeys and Claudia with women’s health among the Toba communities.
We decided to settle down in Formosa; since then, the Owl Monkey Project has grown, and Fundación ECO was formed around Claudia’s and my research project, to unite research, education and conservation in the Chaco region of Argentina.
I started studying owl monkeys in 1996 because I was interested in sex differences, social relationships and the roles that males and females have in the maintenance of a monogamous social system. Owl monkeys live in social groups that include one pair of reproducing adults and between one and four young. It was usually assumed that mates paired for life, but more recently we have learned that adults of both sexes are replaced regularly and violently by incoming adults. In Formosa, Argentina, we continue to conduct behavioral, demographic, genetic and hormonal studies with the owl monkeys.
Below, read an essay that I wrote for the DuMond Conservancy in 1998, in which I reflect on the early days in the field.