My research falls into 3 main categories of increasing specificity: behavioral ecology, social complexity, and social complexity in primates. Together with collaborators and students in my lab, I combine behavioral, movement, and physiological data to address questions in these core areas. While the majority of my research focuses on wild primates, I seek opportunities to work with non-primate species whenever they are relevant to the questions at hand.
A sampling of some recent and on-going work is described below:
Optimal group size in savannah baboons
Most primates are highly social and obligated to group living, yet groups can vary tremendously in size, composition, and stability. What social and ecological factors contribute to this variability? Our on-going research addresses this question by quantifying the energetic costs of group living. In collaboration with the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, our latest research is specifically focused on the energetic consequences of of intergroup competition in wild savannah baboons.
Ranging patterns in wild chimpanzees
Chimpanzees live in fluid fission-fusion societies within which individuals may join subgroups of varying size or travel alone. Our research uses long-term data on the wild chimpanzees of Gombe National Park to examine how factors such as social rank, reproductive state, and season affect movement patterns. This study is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at George Washington University, Duke University, and Franklin and Marshall College.
Nesting ecology of bald eagles
For approximately 50 years, scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology have documented the location and productivity of breeding bald eagles in the lower Chesapeake Bay. During this time, Virginia’s breeding population has increased from less than 30 to more than 700 breeding pairs. This dramatic recovery presents a remarkable opportunity to explore fundamental questions in behavioral ecology. In collaboration with researchers at the Center for Conservation Biology, we’re analyzing long-term survey data to determine the predictors of nesting success.
Consequences of multiple central place foraging in meerkats