The Behavioral and Nutritional Ecology Lab explores the evolutionary significance of human and non-human behavior. Long-term research is focused on the behavioral ecology of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda (see: The Kibale Chimpanzee Project)

Our lab supports nutritional analyses of foods eaten by great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas), monkeys (pitheciids, snub-nosed monkeys, capuchins) and humans (Hadza, Ju-Hoansi).


 

Post-doctoral fellows
  Dr. Ian Gilby
gilby [at] fas.harvard.edu

My research lies at the interface between behavioral ecology and anthropology. I study the evolution of cooperation, with a particular interest in hunting, food sharing and social bonds among male chimpanzees. For more information and a publication list, please visit my website. I designed and manage the Kanyawara chimpanzee database, which includes over 20 years of detailed demographic, behavioral, spatial and nutritional information.
 

Current graduate student research
Current graduate student research includes chimpanzee and bonobo behavioral ecology, hunter-gatherer behavioral ecology, physiological significance of cooking, and cognitive and behavioral development in bonobos, chimpanzees and humans.
 

Rachel Carmody
carmody [at] fas.harvard.edu

My Ph.D. research focuses on the effect of thermal and non-thermal processing on the net energy available from food. Results will help us assess the theoretical impacts of these technologies in supporting elevated energy budgets during human evolution and related consequences for modern human nutrition. Thus far, I have investigated these effects by comparing growth, digestibility, basal metabolic rate, diet induced thermogenesis, and activity levels in rodents fed meat-rich or tuber-rich diets differing in their level of processing. I also plan to compare anthropometric, metabolic and endocrine parameters in human raw-foodists who incorporate different degrees of thermal and non-thermal processing, as well as different combinations of animal versus plant foods, into their diet.



  Alexander Georgiev
georgiev [at] fas.harvard.edu | website
Traveling scholar for the 2009/2010 academic year

From July 2009 to Sept 2010 I will be in the field conducting my dissertation research. I will study the energetic costs of dominance and mating competition among male chimpanzees at Kanyawara, Kibale NP, Uganda (more information). I will also investigate how seasonal changes in food availability affect energy allocation decisions and behavioral mating effort in this species. To do that I will combine detailed behavioral observations of male chimpanzees with measures of C-peptide, a physiological marker of insulin production, obtained from their urine.

To complement my study of short-term changes of C-peptide production in chimpanzees, I will additionally examine the relationship between dietary intake and C-peptide levels in a population of free-ranging bonobos during 4 months after their release to the wild, near the town of Basankusu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. These bonobos come from the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa and most of them are orphans of the bush-meat trade. Their release is the first attempt at rehabilitating bonobos to life in natural conditions and it will contribute to our understanding of the conservation biology of this ape. As part of the post-release monitoring of their behavioral adaptation to life in the wild, I will also study their feeding behavior, social dynamics and cortisol levels, as a measure of physiological stress.



  Luke Glowacki
glowacki [at] fas.harvard.edu | website

My research is concerned with understanding human cognitive evolution with emphasis on male coalitionary violence, cooperation, and the collective action problem using the tools of evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, and cognitive science. My most recent research has explored the socioecology of group violence with an eye towards policy applications. I am also attempting to build a conceptual model of the relationship between developmentally canalized traits and mental plasticity.

I pursue this research agenda through three approaches.
Socioecological modeling: How did the early human socioecological environment give rise to certain behaviors? How did shared selective pressures between primate species result in similar behaviors and how might convergent evolution from different taxa provide clues into the evolution of human traits?

Human behavioral ecology: I study human populations focusing on foragers and subsistence farmers to test socioecological models. I am concerned with the extent to which we might understand how early humans solved problems by examining current adaptive problems in small-scale societies.

Psychology: I use the tools of psychology to understand the relationship between canalized and developmentally plastic behavior. I am interested in how knowledge of our cognitive architecture combined with social psychology can illuminate the structure and content of the human mind.



  Zarin Machanda
machanda [at] fas.harvard.edu

I study The Effect of Male Presence on Female Feeding Efficiency Among the Chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest, Uganda. I am currently completing my thesis, after spending one year collecting data in the field.


  Katie McAuliffe
Information forthcoming.





  Victoria Wobber
wobber [at] fas.harvard.edu

Tory is investigating the evidence for behavioral and cognitive paedomorphism in bonobos by comparing their performance in a variety of tasks with that of chimpanzees. She is also studying the ontogeny of endocrinological profiles of the two species. Her work is conducted at the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and at Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Republic of Congo.


  Brian Wood
bmwood [at] fas.harvard.edu | website

My PhD research addresses foraging, food sharing, and paternal investment among Hadza hunter-gatherers of northern Tanzania. I seek to understand the social motivations and ecological constraints that guide Hadza in their choices of which foods to acquire, and how they share the foods they acquire. My theoretical perspective is that of human behavioral ecology. I am interested in the questions of how and why the Hadza compare to other hunter gatherers, and how human foragers differ from non-human primate societies. My other interests include ethnoarchaeology, human landscape ecology, and visual anthropology.