Primatology Research Group

Primatology Research Group

The Primatology Research Group conducts behavioural studies on wild and captive primates to answer fundamental questions about how animals adapt to environmental change. This is done by applying theories of evolutionary biology and socioecology to explore what drives behavioural and biological adaptation in our closest living relatives. Our research has implications for improving our ability to predict how animals will react and respond to current and future habitat threats including human encroachment and climate change. We primarily focus on wild primates in Asia, but also work in Central America and Madagascar and with captive primates to look at ways we can improve animal welfare.

Associate Professor Alison Behie primarily studies the effect of severe environmental change on primates in both the short-term and long term. She studies short term effects through behavioural field studies focusing on how animals change behaviour in response to habitat alteration. She studies long term effects by using evolutionary theories to explore how exposure to environmental disasters may alter behavioural traits and reproduction. The latter is the focus of her ARC DECRA fellowship.

We are an active research group with Honours, Masters and PhD students engaging in a variety of primate behaviour and conservation projects. While student projects cover a range of topics that involve either collecting behavioural field data or using existing databases, many of the current lab members work on the following two projects:

  • The socioecology of silvered langurs and crested yellow-cheeked gibbons in Cambodia. Working in conjunction with Conservation International, Alison and her students are working on research projects investigating behaviour, nutrition, and habitat use of these two endangered primate species in Northeastern Cambodia.
  • The behaviour and conservation of Cat Ba langurs in Vietnam With less than 65 animals left in the world, Alison and her students are working with the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project and Fauna & Flora International to investigate population viability, diet, nutrition and habitat use of this critically endangered primate.

For more information about available projects in our lab please contact Alison (

Research Group members [with links to researcher pages]

Dr Alison Behie – Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology

Dr Rebecca Hendershott

Amy King (PhD Student)

Abu Kibria (PhD Student)

Kirrily Apthorp (PhD Student)

Kayla Ruskin (PhD Student)

Alannah Pearson (PhD Student)

Yin Yang (PhD Student)

Jessica Williams (PhD Student)

Sarah McGrath (PhD Student)

Hayley Roberts (PhD Student)

Sofie Semmler (PhD)


Past research group members

Fiona Agmen (PhD)

Alvaro Gonzalez-Monge (PhD)

Britta Nelson (Master of Biological Anthropology)

Joanna Blake (Master of Biological Anthropology)

Josh Christie (Master of Biological Anthropology)

Sofie Semmler (Honours)

Hayley Roberts (Honours)

Olivia Morley (Honours)

Charlotte Alley (Honours)

Grace Miller (Honours)

Image gallery

Updated:  13 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications