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Austin Nguyen

Ms. Malaka Friedman

English 101

23 October 2018

A Rhetorical Analysis of a Study of Colobine Monkeys

The population of old world primates is currently on the decline, and so in an effort to aid

in preventing their extinction, two primatologists set out to determine the variables significant to

the extinction risk of taxa in the Colobine phylogeny. In Jason Kamilar and Lisa Paciulli’s2008

research article “Examining the Extinction Risk of Specialized Folivores: A Comparative Study

of Colobine Monkeys”, published in the American Journal of Primatology, the pair delve into the

topic of extinction and analyze the factors that increase the risk of it. With the utilization of

credibility, adherence to proper formatting, and a logical structure, Kamilar and Paciulli are able

to effectively present their findingsconcerning the Colobine monkeys.

To start, it is important to understand the content of the research article. Eight variables

were identified to be related to the extinction risk of Colobine monkeys (female body mass,

percent leaves in diet, percent mature leaves in diet, percent of fruit and seeds in diet, home

range, number of habitat types, absolute value of maximum latitude, and mean human population

density) (Kamilar and Paciulli). With the use of a variety of statistical analyses, four were found

to be most important (body mass, folivory, number of habitats, and maximum latitude) (Kamilar

and Paciulli).
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Before the actual content of the research article even begins, certain things have already

been strategically placed by the writers. The title is descriptive enough to convey the general

idea and yet simplistic enough to grasp the content of the paper which is a convention of

scientific articles. It effectively grabs the attention of those interested in the field. Another detail

to notice is the placement of the writers’ names. Kamilar has had previous affiliation with Yale

University and so perhaps in an effort to increase attention, his name was intentionally placed

first (“Jason Kamilar”).This does not mean Paciulli lacks any experience however. The paper on

Colobine monkeys is not her first as she has written many others in the field (Paciulli) and even

owns a research facility located in Indonesia (Paciulli LM). In addition to the qualifications of

the authors, key words are also identifiedwhich help make the research article appear in certain

search results. These words are primate, conservation, diet, folivory, threatened, and taxonomic

scale (Kamilar and Paciulli). By selecting these phrases, it indicates that the paper’s target

audience are individuals in the same field of study or those interested in the subject. All of this is

merely a small fragment of the research paper, but it is clear that Kamilar and Paciulli have

carefully set everything in their favor.

The paper then continues with the established structure of scientific articles: vital for the

success of the publication of the research. Kamilar and Paciulli create an encompassing abstract,

adequate introduction, methods section, and results section; extensive discussion, and a lengthy

list of citations in the reference list.The introduction alone provides more than sufficient

evidence of intensive study and research. Frequently, there are references to previous published

works as well as justification for certain aspects of the project. When listing traits or other

things, each item is provided its own citation which displays meticulous attention to detail.

Throughout the paper, there is a reoccurring format of making a statement followed by

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explanations coupled by citations sprinkled about. This writing style of the introduction ensures

that each claim is defended and adds to the credibility of Kamilar and Paciulli.

Like most research articles, the introduction is followed by a methods section. For this

paper, Kamilar and Paciulli have decided to divide the section into two parts, data organization

and data analysis. In data organization there is a central theme of not having enough data

available. To solve this, Kamilar and Paciulli took previous published work of other researchers

in the field and compiled it to fill in the gaps. Each mention of this comes with citation(s) which

continues the credibility similar to that of the introduction. Unfortunately, this section is not free

of questionable decisions. An entire paragraph is dedicated to problems with using the

International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN) categories for extinction risk classification

(Kamilar and Paciulli). They acknowledge that the categorization is strongly influenced by

perspective and mention that many other studies have used the IUCN categories as well;

however, in the very next sentence following this stance Kamilar and Paciulli go on to say “The

fact that a particular method is commonly implemented does not justify its use” which also

comes with its own citation (Kamilar and Paciulli). The sentence after completes the argument

that IUCN categories should be used to be able to compare with other work but the final

reasoning does not overcome the self-defeating nature of the previous statement. It creates a

negative mood with the reader and lowers some of the credibility that had been built up to that

point. There is some redemption near the end of the paragraph as Kamilar and Paciulli address

some more issues with the IUCN categories by removing each specific aspect, but other details

continue to erode the credibility of the study. An example is that the paper identified studying

eight extinction variables but only hypothesizes about one of the variables that being female

body mass.
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The data analysis portion of the methods section also weakens Kamilar and Paciulli’s

research article though much of it is out of their control as it is a convention. It was a very smart

idea to divide the methods section into data organization and data analysis because the data

analysis part is where all of the statistical procedures were placed (not the actual analysis of

data). To someone not familiar with the field, the segment requires a great deal of trust from the

reader. The data analysis section appears to have less citations than any other part of the paper,

and although the results section yielded promising findings later, at this point in the article, the

ordinary readers may have stopped reading due to a loss of credibility and in the individual


Those who manage to push through the methods section and decide to proceed onward in

the paper are next met with a short results section. This portion of the paper is frequently short in

scientific articles because their purpose is to only state the outcome of the experiment or test

which in this case are multiple statistical analyses. Several tables are provided and once again

some trust is required due to the high level of math needed to understand it. Still, tables are

clearly labelled as well as the results of the maximum likelihood analysis, the exploratory

analysis, the bivariate analysis, and multiple regression. The eight variables are also

accompanied by either a plus or minus symbol in parenthesis for easy identification of their

relationship with extinction rate (plus means it is positively correlated, minus means it is

negatively correlated). Credibility continues to be maintained at the level it was left at and the

paper follows through with the structure of research articles with the discussion section coming

right after.

The discussion section is by far the largest part and focus of the Kamilar and Paciulli’s

work. Spanning over two pages, this section is also divided into different parts for easier
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identification of information. Out of the eight extinction risk predictors, four were found to be of

greater importance than the rest; body mass, percent of mature leaves in diet, number of habitats,

and maximum latitude (Kamilar and Paciulli). The presentation of the findings and elaboration

of them matches with common knowledge about primates and animals in general which

establishes foundational credibility. The percent of mature leaves in diet discussion agreed with

data from Palomar College regarding the ability of Colobine monkeys to have a “predominantly

low protein, fibrous leaf diet” (O’Neil). All crucial points of the discussion are easily

understandable and results are brief and can be quickly found as a result of how it is organized.

The four sections about the four variables effectively interpret the results and adequately uses

logical reasoning to explain them. Citations appear every few sentences but not so much that

more of the paragraph appears to be in reference to other work. This part of the discussion

finishes off the analysis of the study but Kamilar and Paciulli decide not to end the paper just yet.

After the four sections for each of the four variables, there is a fifth section dedicated to

lower taxonomic scales, an aspect that was not one of the eight variables. Despite its

resemblance in format to the four variables, the content is more similar to the “relevance of the

study” portion found in lab report conclusions. Scientific articles do not have conclusions so

make it makes sense that should an author want to include one, it would be tacked on at the end

of the discussion section. At first the two paragraphs seem irrelevant but actually effectively

opens the way for future work. The section discusses the importance of taxa levels and even

some possible conservation plans (Kamilar and Paciulli) and by adding this section, Kamilar and

Paciulli use the credibility and experience they have gained from the study to offer suggestions

about the direction conservationists should go.

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The work of Jason Kamilar and Lisa Paciulli is important to preserving biodiversity in a

world where humans are speeding up the rate of extinction. By analyzing variables that most

heavily impact the Colobine monkeys, related studies can help to save the Old World primates as

a whole. Their research paper is overall effective in reporting their findings and discussion

despite a few holes from time to time. The logical flow of the findings in combination with the

qualifications of Kamilar and Paciulli are able to follow the format of published journal articles

and analyze the extinction risk of Colobine monkeys to a great extent.

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Works Cited

“Jason Kamilar.” University of Massachusetts Amherst,


Kamilar, Jason M., and Lisa M. Paciulli. “Examining the Extinction Risk of Specialized

Folivores: A Comparative Study of Colobine Monkeys.” American Journal of

Primatology, vol. 70, 9, June 2008, p. 816–827, Wiley Online Library,


O’Neil, Dennis. “Old World Monkeys.” Palomar College,


Paciulli, Lisa. “Lisa Paciulli.” ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lisa_Paciulli.

Paciulli, Lisa M. “‘They’re Logging Your Rain Forest!.’” Vienna, vol. 30, 4, Aug. 2000, p. 36–