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University of Colorado Boulder

Primate Conservation

University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera


We are presently facing a potential extinction crisis for the order Primates (and many other life forms). In this course we will learn about threats to primate conservation globally. We will be using the, “Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2018-2020” by Schwitzer et al. (2019) as a basis for the discussion of global primate populations. We will investigate conservation status, threats to conservations, success and failures within protecting our closest evolutionary cousins.


  • Introduction to Conservation & Conservation Concerns
    • In the first module, I will introduce myself and begin defining the Order Primates. Many people have a ‘love’ of ‘monkeys’ without really understanding how incredibly diverse our Order is! This module starts with a definition of primates and then shows where the current radiation of primates still live.
  • How We Define Threats
    • This module will begin by introducing the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the IUCN RedList, and how species are designated in threat categories. We will also discuss different types of threats to primates globally.
  • Exploring Primates throughout Various Regions
    • In this module, we will focus on the Top 25 Most Endangered Primates list. We will go region to region to learn about the primates and the threats they face toward the possibility of extinction.
  • Conservation Organizations
    • This module will address conservation organizations in multiple contexts. We will learn about 'in situ' and 'ex situ' conservation methodology. Finally, we will look at a number of conservation organizations and think about ways that the public can get involved.
  • Case Study: Vietnam
    • Vietnam is home to an incredible diversity of primates. There are currently 25 species and subspecies living in this tropical country (Covert et al., 2017). In this module, we will discuss the diversity of primates, threats to conservation, and the groups that are helping to conserve these animals (and landscapes!).

Taught by

Jonathan O'Brien

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