I am a biological anthropologist with research interests in primate communication, behavioral ecology, and conservation. I utilize a combination of behavioral and experimental methods in the field to better understand the ways in which ecology shapes (and is shaped by) primate social systems and behaviors.
My primary research is based on over a decade of fieldwork at Los Amigos Conservation Concession in the Peruvian Amazon. There, I investigate questions of how primates cope with the possibility of predation and whether such coping mechanisms actually thwart hunting by predators. Specifically, I conduct experiments on two little known Neotropical primate species, titi monkeys (Callicebus toppini) and saki monkeys (Pithecia rylandsi), using life-size decoys of their predators. I also conduct playback experiments on the predators themselves using audio broadcasts of monkey alarm calls. This experimental design allows me to show how titis and sakis respond to predators, including what information is conveyed in their alarm calls (e.g., about predator type and location) and how these calls result in changes to predator hunting behaviors.
This research is funded by the National Science Foundation (#1341174), Animal Behavior Society, American Association of University Women, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tinker Foundation, The Women’s Place, and Ohio State University’s Department of Anthropology and Center for Latin American Studies.