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So far has created 28 blog entries.

David Wilkie, Wildlife Conservation Society

logo_wcsWith David and colleagues, I have explored the effects of protected areas on people’s livelihood in Gabon. Analyses were based on a dataset collected by WCS on a large cross-sectional selection of households, which were surveyed up to 8 times, and in different seasons. We examined consumption patters, with particular attention to bush meat, in relation to social and economical variables.

Geoffrey Wahungu, Eldoret University, Kenya

A wildlife expert and conservation biologist, Geff helped run an Earthwatch Project “Kenyan Forest Monkeys”, from 2006-2008, which supported research on the behavioral ecology of blue and Sykes’ monkeys at Gede Ruins National Monument and Kakamega Forest. Geff is now director general of the National Environment Management Authority in Kenya, but remains involved with the study of primate seed dispersal and other research activities in Kenya.

Steffen Foerster, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Duke University
Box 90383
Room 109 Biological Sciences Building
130 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708

Email: steffen.foerster(at)
Phone: +1-919-660-7282
Fax: +919-684-8542

List of links

Baboon Research Unit:

Participate in baboon research in Cape Town, South Africa

IMG_8454If you want to gain field experience in preparation for a graduate program in anthropology, animal behavior, or related fields, we are always looking for motivated field assistants to help with long-term monitoring of social and feeding behavior in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). These positions provide extensive training in field methods of behavioral ecology and endocrinology at the field site in Cape Town, South Africa. New volunteers are accepted on a rolling basis, and we prefer a commitment for at least 6 months. Primary responsibilities will be the day-to-day collection of standardized behavioral and demographic data from two study troops, the collection of fecal and urine samples to assess stress and reproductive hormones, urinary C-peptides, and intestinal parasite infections, and data management. In addition, two paid positions are available each year for a duration of one to two years each.


Given substantial responsibilities and a great degree of independence, candidates must be highly reliable and motivated individuals who will be able to work independently without supervision in a foreign country, and be able to provide some documentation attesting to these qualities.

Other minimum qualifications:

  • good physical condition (daily work may involve long hikes following baboons troops, and may include steep mountain slopes and otherwise difficult terrain),
  • comfortable with living away from family and friends,
  • excellent attention to detail,
  • excellent social and communication skills
  • ability to maintain a positive attitude toward hard and tiring work.

Preferred qualifications:

  • undergraduate or graduate courses in anthropology, primatology, or animal behavior
  • prior experience with systematic data collection in the field
  • prior experience with behavioral observations on wild animals
  • prior experience with living and working abroad

Volunteers must be able to cover their own airfare and living expenses. The project house accommodates up to 6 people in shared rooms, and rent varies by room size, currently between $150 and $200 per month, including utilities and internet.


Applications accepted at any time. To apply, please fill out the application form.

  • Sykes monkey female

Behavior and stress in African forest guenons

Stress hormones are involved in essential metabolism and regulation of immune system functions yet can have negative effects on fitness when chronically elevated. They respond to both energetic and challenges, and are thus potentially helpful in assessing the causes and consequences of behavioral variation. Non-invasive techniques allow us to quantify the metabolites of circulating stress hormones or glucocorticoids (GCs) in feces or urine, without interfering with the normal behavior of the study subjects. (more…)

  • Household Survey

Socioeconomics of bushmeat hunting

As a postdoctoral researcher with Boston College and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), I investigated the socioeconomic correlates of bushmeat consumption in rural Gabon and the influence of protected areas on human livelihoods using household survey data. Understanding what role protected areas play for local communities is essential to ensure that people are not left shouldering the costs of biodiversity conservation. In a cross-sectional study of a large number of households and villages, I found a complex relationship between human livelihood indicators and the use of natural resources now inside national parks (Foerster et al., 2011), suggesting highly localized effects. (more…)

Behavioral development and mother-infant relationships

QuantaAmong primates, considerable interspecific variation exists in features of infant development, such as developmental rates, maternal interactions, and other social experiences. To understand the adaptive value of this variation it is useful to consider the ecological and social constraints acting on the behavior of infants, mothers and other group members. To provide the first quantitative data on early infant development in a wild forest guenon, I conducted a detailed behavioral study on infant blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) in the Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya.

One of the main findings of that study was that, compared to similar sized cercopithecines (even those that are largely terrestrial) infant blue monkeys developed spatial independence from their mothers relatively quickly (Förster & Cords, 2002). This result contradicted a previous hypothesis that predicted generally slower infant development in arboreal primates due to the risk of falling from trees. Instead, the rapid development of infant independence appeared to be facilitated by a relaxed social environment (Förster & Cords, 2003) where agonism plays a minor role in social interactions and is largely restricted to feeding contexts. Low rates of agonistic interactions among group members also permitted allomaternal interactions with infants by juvenile females, which seemed to further facilitate development of infant independence (Förster & Cords, 2005).