Human Behavioural Ecology Research Group

Human Behavioural Ecology Research Group
Photo Credit: Dr Geoff Kushnick. These photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (

The Human Behavioural Ecology research group aims to understand the behaviour of individuals in living human populations using a framework that incorporates both biological and cultural evolutionary perspectives. We are interested in testing hypotheses about the biological, cultural, and environmental underpinnings of human productive, reproductive, and social behaviour using quantitative ethnographic data (collected via fieldwork) and existing datasets (both cross-cultural and archival). Our research is quantitatively and analytically sophisticated, using a blend of theory and methods from the social and biological sciences, including systematic observation of behaviour, surveys and interviews, demographic methods, anthropometric methods, experimental design, and multivariate statistics.

  • Dr Geoff Kushnick is a human behavioural ecologist with expertise in the application of evolutionary theory to understanding variation in human behaviour both within and between societies. More specifically, his research interests are: (a) the behavioural ecology of human reproductive strategies; (b) the evolution of social norms, institutions, and behaviour; and, (c) the use of quantitative methods in anthropology. His research is based on extensive fieldwork in rural Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, and cross-culturing comparisons using existing ethnographic accounts from societies around the globe. For more information or potential projects, please email
  • Dr Alison Behie’s expertise lies in exploring how prenatal and early life stress impacts childhood development primarily through the use of existing databases. Using life history theory her work attempts to understand the potential adaptive relationship between our early life experiences and our later physical, cognitive and behavioural development. Within this field she is particularly interested in how stress caused by natural disasters impacts pregnant women and their reproductive outcomes. For more information or potential projects, please email

We are actively seeking Honours, Masters, and PhD students to join the HBE Research Group. Honours and Masters projects may be available, especially for students with some ability in multivariate statistical methods.

Research Group Members:

  • Dr Geoff Kushnick – Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Alison Behie – Senior Lecturer
  • Lauren McFarlane – PhD Student
  • Cynthia Parayiwa – PhD Student
  • Stephen Orchard - Masters
  • Isabella Apriyana - Masters
  • Sumaiyah Qureshi - Honours

Past Group Members:

  • Megan O’Donnell – PhD
  • Ben Gleeson - Masters
  • Madeleine Winkler – Honours


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Updated:  12 February 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications