At the 29th Congress of the Primate Society of Japan in Okayama city, Dr. Andrew MacIntosh of CICASP was one of two awardees of the Takashima Prize for the year 2013. Each year, one or two young researchers are selected for the award based on their scientific contributions of the previous two years.
Dr. MacIntosh was awarded the prize for his recent work demonstrating how interdisciplinary studies of complex phenomena can provide novel insight into ecological processes. In a pair of papers, he investigated how two emergent properties of behavioral organization - fractal behavior patterns and animal social networks - relate to patterns of parasite infection. This work has provided the most comprehensive investigation to date of fractal patterns in the behavior of a wild animal (the Japanese macaque) in relation to life history, social and ecological variables. He showed that primate behavior occurs in fractal time, supporting the hypotheses that complexity is biologically adaptive and that complexity loss, i.e. greater periodicity or stereotypy which can happen to animals operating in sub-optimal conditions (e.g. when heavily infected by parasites), may reflect reduced behavioral fitness. He has also provided the first evidence that transmission of nematode parasites is mediated by host social networks in wild Japanese macaques. Taken together, these works draw ideas and methodologies from fields as diverse as statistical physics, network science, behavioral ecology, parasitology, epidemiology and endocrinology. He hopes that this work encourages future interdisciplinary research into the interrelationships between complexity, behavioral organization and ecological processes.
The Takashima Prize is awarded annually to a member of the Primate Society of Japan in conjunction with Kyouei Steel, LTD. This year's other Takashima Prize winner was Dr. Hiroki Koda for his work into the evolution of primate vocal communication.
Photo: Dr. MacIntosh receives the award from Dr. Keiko Shimizu, president of the Primate Society of Japan, September 7 2013 (courtesy of Heungjin Ryu).