Measuring Behaviour – Learning Pack

This pack explains how to construct behaviour categories from a species ethogram from videos of primate behaviour. More complicated social behaviours are described in posters that show how two related primate species have quite different non-vocal communication patterns. Part two shows how to use standard behaviour sampling to measure and record behaviour for a research project. Videos suitable for various sampling methods are supplied for class activities.

 Living Links – measuring behaviour ppt (4.6MB)

Research paper to accompany Measuring Behaviour power point

Leonardi, R., Buchanan-Smith, H., Dufour, V., MacDonald, C. & Whiten, A. (2010) Living Together: Behaviour and welfare in single and mixed species groups of capuchin (Cebus apella) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). American Journal of Primatology 72(1):33-47.

Teacher’s Guide for Measuring Behaviour power point – PDF document (2.3MB)

Measuring Behaviour – Living Links to Curriculum – PDF (0.3MB)

Squirrel Monkey and capuchin comparison –  PDF document (0.6MB)

Capuchin Monkey Social Behaviour Guide – PDF poster (1.9MB)

Squirrel Monkey Social Behaviour Guide – PDF poster (1.6MB)

Recording Behaviour guide – PDF (0.2MB)

Recording capuchin behaviour video

This video has been made as a resource for students to practice categorising behaviours from a species ethogram for use in a primate behaviour study. Note, this video does not show all the behaviours that would be in the complete capuchin ethogram however a good proportion of behaviours can be seen. This video shows some selected behaviours and variations of them that will demonstrate the importance of defining and coding behaviours carefully before a study. Watch on vimeo where there are also HD downloads, or watch on YouTube (click 1080p for best quality).

Measuring Behaviour video – Chimpanzee group sequences for teaching ‘group scan sampling’

This is a series of three short (each about two and a half minutes) video sequence ‘sessions’ suitable for teaching behavioural sampling on primate groups. Each sampling session highlights different considerations for designing a sampling proceedure. The first session can be used to highlight difficulties of continuous sampling on animal groups and the importance of considering how to deal with ‘visibility issues’. The second session allows students to trial a form of ‘group scan sampling’ and consider how to deal with ‘rarer behaviours’ that might otherwise be missed. The third session allows students to fine tune their method.

The chimpanzees are in the Budongo Trail exhibit in Edinburgh Zoo and are receiving a feed of sweet potatoes. Watch on vimeo where there are also HD downloads, or watch on YouTube (click 1080p for best quality)

Measuring behaviour video – 15-minute video of capuchin monkey behaviour


This is a 15 minute practice video suitable for students learning the methods used in the study of animal behaviour. There are brown capuchin monkeys and common squirrel monkeys living together in a mixed group. The video is useful for trying out many different sampling techniques on individuals or on groups. However, it is particularly designed for trying out focal individual continuous sampling (the alpha male capuchin ‘Popeye’ is labelled throughout).

There are a number of different foraging, feeding and social behaviours featured, including a brief bit of courtship from one of our adult females (recognisable in this video because they have babies on their backs). The boxes were put into the enclosures by the keepers, they contain straw and some of the monkeys preferred foods. It is recommended that students watch the video first to develop some research questions, and then an ethogram (a list of behaviours) before starting to collect data. Methods for behavioural sampling can be found in:

Altmann J. 1974. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour 49: 227-267 [reprinted in Foundations of Animal Behavior, L.D. Houck & L.C. Drickamer, eds. U Chicago Press, 1996]. PDF here:

Martin, P. & Bateson. P. (2007) Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide. 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Watch on vimeo where there are also HD downloads, or watch on YouTube (click 1080p for best quality)

If you use any of our materials, please leave us feedback in the comments section below on how they were used, and how they can be improved. Academic levels and student numbers are particularly useful!


23 thoughts on “Measuring Behaviour – Learning Pack”

  1. Love the poster of capuchin expressions/communication. Thank you for posting! I am teaching a primate behavior and ecology course in Costa Rica this summer, and this poster will be a great teaching tool for students studying the capuchins. I really like the 15 minute sampling video, but won’t be able to use it there because we have no internet.

    • Thanks! I hope the course goes well. You CAN take the video to Costa Rica! If you follow the links on the player to the video on the Vimeo website you should be able to download the video in HD (you may have to set up a user account for Vimeo). Or you can send students to this website to practice before they go to the field! All we ask for are a few lines on how it was used or other feedback here in the website comments!
      Mark Bowler

    • Thanks Liza!
      This one slipped through! We try to use common names where possible, so these ones have just changed to that. I have however added a note on the change to Sapajus on some pages where it is needed – thanks!
      Living Links do of course support the change – the recent papers make it obvious, and as a research group we are moving over to Sapajus for scientific publications.
      I’ll be in touch soon!
      Mark Bowler

  2. Hi! I’ve just found these resources and the videos look perfect for in-class use. I was wondering, however, if you could direct me to the excel sheet with the additional information to go with the ethogram video? It would be a great double-check for my students…and I couldn’t seem to locate the file on your site. Thanks for making this material available!

  3. So glad to hear you like the resources. I will email you the excel sheet that we have so far. It still needs a few design tweaks before I put it up live for everyone.

    • Hi Emma glad you like the resources, but we have this up on TES already, may I ask what account you have uploaded it to? You can find all our resources on TES under our account LivingLinksResearchCentre.

        • Fantastic that this is being adapted for year 8! Perhaps Living Links could help distribute that version too! Its going to be fun trying to count up all usage from different places!! Good luck Alaina! And what I’d really like to hear are comments from the kids… anonymous of course – do you have any Emma? Cheers, Mark (helped make the beta versions of some of this stuff)

  4. I used the most of these videos to teach a field course in at Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Manu. Ten of the best Peruvian biology students – most at undergrad or entering post-grad level. Would be great to see the estimated usage figures soon!

  5. Fab resource. Hits the spot with what I am teaching to my edexcel level 3 students. Only issue I have is that it says on the teachers notes and powerpoint that it would be helpful to give the students the research paper to read. I tried clicking on the link to download the file to add to the lesson but it did not work. Could you also email me the excel sheet as well please. Once again a fab resource. Thank you very muchly :-). PS keep up the hard work.

  6. Hi Helen,

    Thanks for your comments and glad to hear the resources are working well for you. The excel file is now the pdf called ‘recording behaviour guide’ and is posted with the others in the above list.

    I have emailed the paper to you 🙂

  7. Hello,
    Planning to use the videos with my Higher /Advanced Higher pupils (Scottish curriculum) – looks perfect for making an ethogram Was going to ask why no sound, but I suppose it’ll focus the observers’ minds. Will feedback on how it goes.

    • Hi Alice,

      Glad you like the videos. The videos were filmed at the zoo so some of the sounds you would have heard would have been our visitors chatting about the monkeys. Hope they enjoy them and please do feedback their thoughts.

      Many thanks


  8. Dear Living Links,

    Love the website and the learning opportunities you have created. However, I cannot find the excel sheet that is referred too with Capuchin 15 minute behavioural video. Is it possible to send me this. Thank you.

  9. Dear Living Links,

    I would like to use your material in my first year ethology course but cannot fid the excel sheet referred to in the material. Would you be able to send this to me?

    Thanks for the wonderful resources.

    Best wishes,


Leave a comment