Michelle Sauther

Michelle Sauther

Faculty: Biological Anthropology

Professor Sauther’s major focus of research is to better understand how both immediate and long-term environmental factors interact with inter-individual variation to affect primate behavior and biology. In essence, she is very interested in how primates “negotiate” living within a variety of environments.

  • How do they deal with both natural and human-induced changes?
  • How does this affect their life history patterns, growth and development, as well as disease ecology?

Her research is deeply interdisciplinary, and brings together wildlife veterinarians, geneticists, biochemists, mechanical engineers, evolutionary morphologists and many others to truly address these issues from a synthetic perspective.

Working with Professor Sauther

Professor Sauther’s students focus on understanding the effects of natural and human-induced change on primate biology and behavior. Their research includes testing the energy hypothesis for female dominance in wild ring-tailed lemurs, using spatial analysis and habitat modeling at multiple spatial scales to identify landscape and habitat characteristics that affect lemur community structure and viability, characterizing the development of tooth wear and dental senescence among ring-tailed lemurs to examine how behavior, health and ecology are related to patterns of dental wear, sifaka conservation biology and ethnoprimatology, the interplay of anthropogenic habitat disturbance and primate behavioral ecology, sifaka and ring-tailed lemur parasite ecology and socioecology, and mouse lemur and bat community ecology.

Professor Sauther is looking for graduate students with an interest in:

  • Conservation Biology
  • Environmental effects on primate population dynamics
  • Fragmentation ecology
  • Lemur ecology and paleoecology
  • Lemur behavioral ecology

Currently she is looking for graduate students specifically interested in 1) studying nocturnal primate (galago species) ecology, behavior and biology at two field sites in South Africa; 2) wild ring-tailed lemur aging and senescence and 3) dental ecology of ring-tailed lemurs and galagos including toothwear and pathology.

More about Professor Sauther

The Lemur Biology Project is at the center of Professor Sauther’s research and focuses on how geographic and anthropogenic factors affect the behavior, demography, health, and genetics of endangered lemurs at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar (BMSR) and other places in Madagascar. Sauther is, in essence, trying to understand the biology of change.

To see a visual overview of Sauther’s project, please view the “Beza Recruitment” video. (Scroll to bottom)

To learn more about Dr. Sauther's work visit the Beza Mahafaly Lemur Biology website and view the American Museum of Natural History's "Lemurs of Madagascar-Surviving on an Island of Change" below.