FAQ

Disclaimer: The FAQs section of this website is intended as a quick-answer guide to the A.P.E.S. database. For the formal agreements to which contributors and users must commit, please see “Data Release and Users Agreement”.

The information on this site is current as of: February 16, 2007.

  1. Why do we need an A.P.E.S. database?
  2. Who ‘owns’ the A.P.E.S. database?
  3. What information is required in order to contribute to the A.P.E.S. database?
  4. What will be the output of the A.P.E.S. database?
  5. Who will be included in resultant publications from the A.P.E.S. database?
  6. Who controls dissemination of my data after it has been submitted to A.P.E.S.?
  7. Who can access the A.P.E.S. database?
  8. How will the integrity of the A.P.E.S. database be maintained?
  9. What are the current activities and recent progress of the A.P.E.S. database?
  10. Which organizations are involved in the A.P.E.S. database?
  11. Where can I find definitions of terms used throughout this site?
  12. Where is the database physically located?
  13. Who should I contact for more information?

1. Why do we need an A.P.E.S. database?

Despite all effort and investment made, our knowledge about the apes’ plight is still very incomplete. We know that all four ape species are in the midst of precipitous decline. We also know that the causes of decline vary across the apes’ range, with habitat destruction, hunting and disease major threats in different areas of their ranges. However, we still lack critical information such as the rate of ape declines or the extent of a particular threat on a local scale. This information is essential to allocate conservation actions and subsequently to evaluate their effectiveness for the safeguarding of the world’s great apes.

Our lack of knowledge is manifold. Political instability, limitations of funding resources, the use of inappropriate survey methods which have failed to deliver reliable estimates of ape abundance and the reporting of survey results to funding or conservation organizations without public access are the main reasons we do not have a good handle on the current status of remaining great ape populations.

Existing ape survey data are dispersed throughout the world in a variety of institutions. There has not previously been a systematic approach to collectively archive these data or to combine several datasets for quantitative small or large scale analysis on ape distributions, population trends or meta-analyses of management efficiency. In the past, survey efforts have very often only focused on ape abundance. Only recently has this shifted towards a more analytical approach including the evaluation of population trends.

There has also been a recent movement in many scientific disciplines to increase the amount of “data sharing”, which ensures that research efforts and resources are utilized to their maximum potential.

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2. Who ‘owns’ the A.P.E.S. database?

No one owns the A.P.E.S. database.

The A.P.E.S. database is a collaborative effort of several academic departments and conservation organizations which is endorsed by the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group’s (PSG) Great Ape Section. Each of these organizations has representation in the Data Review Working Group (DRWG) whose functions are to oversee the organization of the database, ensure the long-term maintenance of data sets, create an efficient user interface, produce and disseminate annual status reports, evaluate and follow-up requests for data, and ensure adherence to database policies. The DRWG is also charged with implementing measures to evaluate the quality of data deposited in the database and promoting high standards for future ape surveys.

All digital data extracts released to any person or group will remain the property of the A.P.E.S. database, an official activity of the IUCN/SSC PSG. As specified in the “Data Release and Users Agreement”, these data will not be passed on to any third party.

As a custodian of A.P.E.S. Source Data, the IUCN/SSC PSG has no rights of ownership or any obligations to their dissemination, but unless specifically restricted by the Data Provider, will allow their inspection by third parties.

Data entered into the A.P.E.S. database are obtained through the generous participation of many governments, organizations and individuals from numerous ape range states throughout tropical Africa and Asia.

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3. What information is required to contribute to the A.P.E.S. database?

The success of the A.P.E.S. database is dependent upon the contributions of . . .

  • Ape Survey Data which may include line transect nest surveys, population census information, encounter rates of ape signs on reconnaissance surveys, or systematic observations of ape presence/absence. This list is certainly not exhaustive and the database can be adapted to include data from unique or innovative survey techniques.

  • Spatial Data associated with surveys of ape distribution or abundance. These data may include GIS information about the ape survey design or georeferenced information on relevant covariates in the region

  • Electronic Maps depicting ancillary information, such as protected areas, national boundaries, roads, rivers and relief. However, as most of these ancillary maps are obtained from third-party providers, they do not belong to the A.P.E.S. database.

  • References to ape surveys which are not currently listed in the catalogue.
  • Please contact us if you have questions about data contributions.

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4. What will be the output of the A.P.E.S. database?

Annually, the DRWG will prepare and publish an A.P.E.S. Status Report, with the aim of using all available survey data to depict the most precise and accurate portrait of ape status worldwide. However, the electronic version of the A.P.E.S. is a continual 'work in progress' and may therefore include contradictory and/or unverified information at any given time between the production of status reports.

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5. Who will be included in resultant publications from the A.P.E.S. database?

The data owners will be included as co-authors in papers, reports, publications or any other output where any of their data extracts gets used. Proper acknowledgement will be given to the investigators affiliation, sponsors or funding agencies for their surveys. This will be agreed through the “Deposit form” signed by the data owner and APES database coordinator and through the “Data Release and Users Agreement”.

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6. Who controls dissemination of my data after it has been submitted to A.P.E.S.?

The provider of the survey data decides which restrictions they will place on access to the data.

As a custodian of A.P.E.S. Source Data, the IUCN/SSC PSG has no rights of ownership or any obligations to their dissemination. Unless specifically restricted by the Data Provider, the DWRG will allow inspection of data to third parties whose data requests are approved. Any other conditions imposed by the Data Providers on the release of Source Data, views or extracts thereof will be strictly observed.

With regards to ancillary datasets the IUCN/SSC PSG has no rights to their dissemination. If the data provider has indicated that these data may be available to third parties, release of this information will be subject to any conditions imposed by the Data Provider. In all other cases the DRWG will re-direct any requests for such datasets to the appropriate data provider.

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7. Who can access the A.P.E.S. database?

For the purpose of data release and access, A.P.E.S. database status reports and any data views contained therein are in the public domain once they have been published in hard copy or released in read-only electronic format on the official A.P.E.S. database web site.

Views of the database depicting processed summary tables or maps in non geo-referenced, bitmapped or non-editable vector graphic formats may be made available upon written request.

Any party wishing to obtain digital data extracts from the A.P.E.S. database must complete the “Data Request Form” and submit a formal, written proposal according to specifications noted in that document to the Data Review Working Group. The request and proposal will be evaluated for conservation relevance and scientific merit. The “Data Release and Users Agreement” which outlines the specific terms and conditions of data usage must be signed and returned to the DRWG before any data will be released.

For a general overview of the policies of the A.P.E.S. database, please see “Data Release and Users Agreement”.

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8. How will the integrity of the A.P.E.S. database be maintained?

Hard copy and 'read-only' electronic versions of the status reports generated from the A.P.E.S. database will be freely available. Electronic versions of the status reports will be downloadable from the internet through the use of a password that will be given by the APES team (apes[at]eva.mpg.de).

Therefore, full or partial, editable versions of the updated electronic database will be made available on a controlled basis. Specific conditions have been designed to restrict the dissemination of ancillary data layers that are not the property of PSG.

Furthermore, any party who has received a digital data extract from the A.P.E.S. database must submit a final draft of all documents and modifications to the original dataset to the DRWG for review and comments prior to submission, publication, or dissemination.

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 9. What are the current activities and recent progress of the A.P.E.S. database?

We are currently cataloging all existing ape survey data sets. More than 650 data sets have been listed in the catalogue since January 2005. We have estimated that there are still more than 500 survey data sets that need to be catalogued in the A.P.E.S. database.

The A.P.E.S. wiki is currently updated with new surveys and PDF documents are being created for an overview of apes’ status by country.

At the end of July 2009 we will launch the new website updated with new and more information.

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10. Which organizations are currently involved in the development of the A.P.E.S. database?


  • Bonobo Conservation Initiative(BCI): http://www.bonobo.org/
  • Conservation International (CI): http://www.conservation.org/Pages/default.aspx
  • Conservation et utilisation rationelle des ECOsystemes Forestiers d'Afrique Centrale (ECOFAC): http://www.ecofac.org/
  • Ebo Forest Project
  • FipCam
  • Harvard University: http://www.harvard.edu/
  • Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN): http://www.iccn.cd/
  • IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group: http://www.primate-sg.org
  • Jane Goodall Institute (JGI): http://www.janegoodall.org/
  • Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE): http://www.cites.org/eng/prog/MIKE/index.shtml
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: http://www.eva.mpg.de/primat/
  • Nigerian Conservation Foundation: http://www.ncfnigeria.org/
  • Project Grands Singes (PGS): http://webh01.ua.ac.be/crc/pgs/PGS_home.html
  • Wildlife Conservation Society: http://www.wcs.org/
  • Wild Chimpanzee Foundation: http://www.wildchimps.org/
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF): http://www.panda.org/
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    11. Where can I find definitions of the terms used throughout this site?

    A.P.E.S. Database – Ape Populations, Environments, and Surveys database. An electronic collection of tables, geo-referenced maps and any other datasets containing information relating to the distribution and abundance of free-ranging apes. Any data captured or digitized and integrated into the A.P.E.S. database and any views or extracts thereof remain the property of the PSG.

    IUCN/SSC – International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission official website: http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/

    PSG – Primate Specialist Group http://www.primate-sg.org

    DRWG – Data Review Working Group. Made up of representatives from the academic departments and conservation organizations working on the A.P.E.S. database, the DRWG is responsible for overseeing the organization of the database, ensuring the long-term maintenance of data sets, creating an efficient user interface, producing and disseminating annual status reports, evaluating and following-up requests for data, and ensuring adherence to the database policies. The DRWG is also charged with implementing measures to evaluate the quality of data deposited in the database and promoting high standards for future ape surveys.

    Source Data – Reports, personal communications, questionnaire replies, publications and any other form of data or information submitted to the PSG for input into the A.P.E.S. Database.

    Data Provider – Individual or organization who has provided source data according to A.P.E.S. database protocols (See “Data Deposit Guidelines and Agreement” [doc/pdf]). With regard to published data, this will refer to the first author on a published manuscript or author of an unpublished report. The data provider maintains ownership of all source data and serves as the point-person for permission regarding data usage and collaborations.

    Proposal Author – Individual who has submitted a proposal to the DRWG for access to digital data extracts in the A.P.E.S. database.

    Status Report – Any of the reports on the status and distribution of apes produced by the DRWG in hard copy and/or read-only electronic format.

    Ancillary Datasets– A collection of tables and maps in digital format and views and extracts thereof produced by third parties and employed in the A.P.E.S. database.

    Digital Data Extract– A subset of data contained in the A.P.E.S. database in editable, tabular or graphic, geo-referenced format.

    View – A snapshot of a subset of data contained in the A.P.E.S. database and/or related digital databases operated by the Primate Specialist Group, in a non-geo-referenced, rasterized or non-editable electronic vector format, or in hard copy.

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    12. Where is the database physically located?

    This database is hosted by the Primatology Department of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology which is located in Leipzig, Germany.

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    13. Who should I contact for more information?

    We welcome feedback and suggestions for the A.P.E.S. database. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the concept of the A.P.E.S. database or comments for improving the web interface. We will respond as soon as possible.

    E-Mail: apes(at)eva.mpg.de

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